Skip to main content

For those struggling with a substance use disorder, there can be many risks, including possible overdose. Harm reduction refers to services and policies that lessen the dangerous effects of drug use to protect public health. There are many local harm reduction services in your community that can support you and help you stay safe.



Learn more about life-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 blocks the effects of opioids, which can reverse an overdose for a limited period of time. Although naloxone can have some side effects, it does not cause any feelings of pleasure and it does not kill pain. The effects of naloxone begin within 2-5 minutes after it is taken.

For more information about naloxone including brand names, how it works, and where to find it, check out our dictionary.

LiveLOUD Dictionary: Naloxone


What is it?

Legal fentanyl is a man-made opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and can only be prescribed by a doctor. 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?

Just a tiny amount of illegally made fentanyl is enough to cause death. Some people may think only heroin or cocaine are at risk of possibly being laced with fentanyl, but the truth is many other drugs have been laced with it, from pills to powders to leaves. Fentanyl should only be used when prescribed by a doctor.

For more information about fentanyl including side effects, child safety, and how to test for it, check out our dictionary.

LiveLOUD Dictionary: Fentanyl


The amount of xylazine-related overdose deaths in Connecticut is on the rise. In 2022, 253 overdose deaths in the state involved xylazine, according to a report by the CT Department of Public Health. This drug is not an opioid; it is an animal tranquilizer that can have dangerous health effects when used by humans.

What is it?

Xylazine is a non-opioid drug commonly used in veterinary, or animal, medicine to put horses or cattle to sleep during treatment. When taken by humans, xylazine can be life-threatening. Since this drug is mainly used for animal care, it is not yet a controlled substance. However, make no mistake – this drug is not approved for use in humans.

What does it do?

Xylazine is a powerful sedative. That means it slows down brain activity to make you feel more relaxed. Xylazine is usually injected, but it can also be swallowed or snorted. The effects of xylazine start quickly and can last for hours depending on the dose. This drug is also often mixed with opioids, especially fentanyl, to extend the high that results from opioid use.

People who use xylazine or drug mixtures with xylazine often have severe wounds that take months or years to heal. Xylazine wounds will start as a skin-deep cut, similar to a blister, which will then open, expand, and deepen over time. Without proper medical care, these wounds can become badly infected and even lead to amputation, or the removal of a body part. For more information on xylazine and wound care, click here.

Since xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone will not reverse the effects of xylazine. However, because xylazine is often mixed with opioids, it is best to give naloxone to someone experiencing an overdose if you have it available. 

For more information about xylazine including additional side effects, check out our dictionary.

LiveLOUD Dictionary: Xylazine

Where to Find Help

I am in need of

    In case of an emergency or if you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911. For more information about treatment and resources in Connecticut, call our 24/7 Access Line at 1-800-563-4086.

    Call the Access Line