Opioids are medications that are used treat moderate to severe pain but can also have serious risks and side effects. Common types of opioids oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone.
Heroin is an illegal opioid. 36 people die every day from an overdose death involving heroin in the United States (CDC).
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It is many times more powerful than other opioids and is approved for treating severe pain. Illegally made and distributed fentanyl has been on the rise in several states.
Illegally made fentanyl is a lot more potent than opioid medications or heroin. Just 3 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal, compared to 30 milligrams of heroin. Fentanyl increasingly can be found across the United States. It is commonly added to other substances or replaces other substances entirely. Often this is done without the street dealers’ or end users’ knowledge.
Xylazine is a non-opioid sedative commonly used in veterinary medicine. Xylazine was never approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in humans because in clinical trials it caused severe central nervous system (CNS) depression or sedation in humans. Xylazine is seen primarily as an additive in the illegal drug supply and is not typically a substance that is used on its own.
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Naloxone temporarily blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse overdose. Naloxone only works if opioids are in the body and has no effects on alcohol or other drugs. It takes 2-5 minutes to start working and may require more than one dose. The effects of naloxone last for between 30-90 minutes. Naloxone may cause an opioid dependent person to go into withdrawal (e.g. nausea, vomiting, agitation, muscle aches). These symptoms will go away as the naloxone wears off.