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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

Alliance for Living

Helping those living with HIV, homelessness or substance use disorder.

Call 860-447-0884Visit Website

Apex Community Care- Danbury

Provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use disorders, and their families or loved ones.

Call 203-778-2437Visit Website

Apex Community Care- Torrington

Provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use disorders, and their families or loved ones.

Call 860-453-0888Visit Website

Apex Community Care- New Milford

Provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use disorders, and their families or loved ones.

Visit Website

Apex Community Care- Waterbury

Provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use disorders, and their families or loved ones.

Call 203-778-2437Visit Website

Mid Fairfield AIDS Project

Provides health and housing to people living with HIV/AIDS, addiction, a disability, or homelessness.

Call 203-855-9535Visit Website

Perception Programs, Inc.

Offers accessible, low-cost, personalized health care services to the community.

Call 860-450-7122Visit Website

AIDS CT Programs- Project TLC

Offers transitional case management, medical transportation, and referrals to individuals for 30-60 days following release from prison.

Call 860-247-2437Visit Website

Sex Workers and Allies Network (SWAN)

Stands for the decriminalization of sex work and drug use in order to promote the health and well-being of those living and working on the streets.

Call 475-441-4350Visit Website

Yale University Community Health Care Van (CHCV)

Mobile medical clinic that travels to New Haven’s poorest neighborhoods impacted by HIV/AIDS, drug use, homelessness and mental illness.

Call 203-737-4047Visit Website

Uncas Health District

Provides local health services to CT residents including environmental health inspections, infectious disease review and follow-up, and public health emergency preparation.

Call 860-823-1189Visit Website

Waterbury Health Department

Offers community health services such as HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention, immunization, and public health nursing.

Call 203-574-6780Visit Website

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