Harm Reduction

Harm reduction refers to a range of services and policies that lessen the adverse consequences of drug use and protect public health. Unlike approaches that insist that people stop using drugs, harm reduction acknowledges that many people are not able or willing to abstain from illicit drug use, and that abstinence should not be a precondition for help.

Learn more about live-saving naloxone to reverse opioid overdose.

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of overdose and prevent deaths. Naloxone is widely available in Connecticut.

How it Works

Naloxone binds to opioid receptors in the brain in place of opioid drugs. When opioids are prevented from binding to these receptors, the brain does not flood with dopamine due to the intoxicating substance. Although naloxone can have some side effects, it does not induce any euphoria when bound to opioid receptors in the brain, nor does it kill pain. It simply prevents opioids from binding there, which can temporarily reverse an overdose. The effects of naloxone begin within 2-5 minutes after the medication is administered.

Potential Side Effects

Use of naloxone may cause symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including:

  • Nervousness, restlessness, or irritability
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea
  • Fever or chills
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

The effects of naloxone begin within 2-5 minutes after the medication is administered. Those who experience an allergic reaction from naloxone, such as hives or swelling in the face, lips, or throat, should seek medical help immediately.

Naloxone brand names.

Naloxone can be given as an injection or as a nasal spray. EVZIO is a self-administered injectable. The two brands of naloxone that come in the form of a nasal spray are Narcan and Padagis.

The Naloxone + Opioid Response App (NORA) is a free interactive educational tool that will expand the understanding of what naloxone is and reinforce initial training given when a person fills their prescription for it. You can access the app at www.norasaves.com.

Opioid information, services and naloxone distribution.

Connecticut offers distribution and training events. These events are excellent resources for learning more about naloxone and how to use it. Click here for more information on naloxone and training materials.

More Opioid Resources

Connecticut's Regional Behavioral Health Action Organizations (RBHAOs) provide a variety of substance use disorder services, including naloxone training and kit distribution events to communities.

Learn More


There are many pharmacies in Connecticut that are certified to distribute naloxone. It is strongly recommended to call ahead of time to check if naloxone is available. If it is not available at that time, most certified pharmacies can get the medication within 24 hours. Click here to find a certified pharmacy near you.

For treatment information, visit Treatment Options.

For information on naloxone training and distribution events, please visit Opioid Services (ct.gov).

Information from the Project TLC Program for HIV-positive individuals out of prison, including the Connecticut AIDS Drug Assistance Program (CADAP):

Project TLC transitional case management, medical transportation and referrals to individuals for 30-60 days following release.

Learn More

Emergency Shelter Information:

Learn More

Connecticut Harm Reduction Alliance (CT HRA) Syringe Services Programs:

For a complete and up to date listing of all CT Syringe Services Programs please visit:

Learn More

Additional Harm Reduction Resources:


154 Broad Street, New London, CT 06320
(860) 447-0884 ext. 233
Carol Jones - [email protected]
APEX (Danbury)

85 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810
(203) 778-2437
Paisley Reardan - [email protected]
APEX (Torrington)

85 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810
(860) 453-0888
Program Contact TBA - https://apexcommunitycarect.org/

618 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850
(203) 855-9535 ext. 107
Erma Benedetto - [email protected]

54 North Street, PO Box 407 Willimantic, CT 06226
(860) 450-7248
Morgan North - [email protected]

269 Peck Street, New Haven, CT 06513
(475) 441-4350
Evan Serio - [email protected]

401 West Thames Street, Suite #106 Norwich, CT 06360
(860) 823-1189 ext. 123
Susan Dubb, RN - [email protected]

154 Broad Street, New London, CT 06320
(203) 574-6883
Samuel Bowens - [email protected]

One Jefferson Square 2nd Floor, Suite #17, Waterbury, CT 06706
(203) 737-4047
Sharon Joslin - [email protected]

What Is It?

Legal, pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Most cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl sold on the street for its heroin-like effect.

What Does It Do?

A small pinpoint of fentanyl is enough to lead to death when used without a doctor prescribing it. Some may think a drug being laced with fentanyl is only an issue for heroin or cocaine users, when in reality, it's being found in a multitude of other drugs, from pills to powders to leaf.

For more information on fentanyl, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How to Test for Fentanyl

If you choose to use any street drugs, make sure you're using safely. Testing your drugs to make sure they are not laced with fentanyl could be the difference between life and a fatal overdose.

You can get testing strips through your local syringe access or harm reduction program. Strips can also be ordered online directly from BTNX.

To use the strips, follow these steps:

  • Testers can dissolve the drug they want to test in water. Please note: the amount needed to test will vary by drug.
  • Next, dip the test strip into the liquid for 15 seconds.
  • Remove the test strip and set the strip on a flat surface until results appear, usually within 5 minutes.
  • One line means that fentanyl is present; two lines mean it is not.

Keep in mind that a negative test doesn't mean using drugs is safe; there is still the potential for opioid overdose.

For a how-to video on using a testing strip, view this how-to video from DPH Marketing Partners.

Child Safety: Storage & Clean-up

Accidental ingestion of fentanyl can be fatal to children. If you use drugs, be sure to store them in a locked container and thoroughly clean up after use. Even a small amount of residue can be dangerous to children. Clean up using soap and water, before using bleach or alcohol-based sanitizer.

How to Recognize an Overdose

Recognizing an opioid overdose can be difficult. If you aren't sure, it is best to treat the situation like an overdose—you could save a life. Call 911 or seek medical care for the individual and administer Naloxone if you have it available. Do not leave the person alone. Signs of an overdose may include:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

Additional Side Effects

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Stiff or rigid muscles
  • Constricted pupils
  • Physical weakness
  • Itching
  • Depressed breathing, shallow breaths, or irregular breaths
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Flushing
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Symptoms of Withdrawal

  • Restlessness
  • Excessive yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Tearing or watery eyes
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Pain in the muscles, joints or back
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Anxiety, irritability, or mood swings
  • Physical weakness
  • Loss of appetite and stomach cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate

Those who are experiencing an overdose should seek medical help immediately.

Source: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/fentanyl-treatment/side-effects