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Save A Life – Opioid Awareness

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of pain-relieving drugs that work by interacting with opioid receptors in your cells. Opioids are made from the poppy plant or produced in a laboratory.  Prescription opioids include:

Oxycontin® a/k/a "Oxy"
Percocet® a/k/a "Percs"
Vicodin® a/k/a "Vikes"


opioid overdose


50% of those who take prescription opioids without a prescription get them for free from a friend or relative, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid (80 times more potent than morphine) that since 2013 has driven the steep rise in opioid overdoses.

  • It is a synthetic (made by chemicals) opioid (DEA)
  • It is roughly 100 times more potent than morphine (DEA)
  • It is about 50 times more potent than heroin (DEA)
  • It is a pharmaceutical drug used to treat patients with severe pain (NIH)
  • It is now produced in illegal drug factories and sold to drug dealers who package it in stash houses and clandestine labs 
  • It is responsible for more fatal overdoses than heroin and prescription pain pills (CDC)
  • Drug dealers are producing counterfeit pills that look almost identical to legitimate prescription opioids and filling them with fentanyl (DEA)



What is Heroin?

Heroin is in the opioid class of drugs.  It is a very addictive drug made from morphine, a psychoactive (mind-altering) substance.  Heroin’s color and look depend on how it is made and what else it may be mixed with. It can be white or brown powder, or a black, sticky substance called “black tar heroin.”

4 out of 5 heroin users began by misusing prescription pain meds
(Partnership for Drug-Free Kids)

Prescription opioids and heroin act on the same brain receptors (SAMHSA)


Stop the opidemic


Prescribed an Opioid? Now What?

Not every patient takes all the pills they're prescribed. 

According to the CDC, almost 50% of non-medical prescription opioid users (that is, people who use them recreationally/abuse them) get them for free or buy them from a friend or relative.

  1. Keep your prescriptions in a safe place. Don't assume someone you love won't take them. 
  2. Keep track of your pills. Were you prescribed 20 pills and only took 3? Are you sure you have 17 left? Are any missing? 
  3. Discard your unused medications properly.


  • Discard your unused medications properly.
  • Do not leave unused pills in your home.
  • Do not discard unused medication in the trash.
  • Do not flush unused pills down a toilet.
  • Find a convenient location to dispose of your unused or expired medications safely and properly.



Click each link to watch 30 second opioid awareness videos on the District of Maryland’s YouTube Channel:

“Drug Dropbox” Public Service Announcement (Maryland - captioned)


“Drugs Don't Discriminate” Public Service Announcement (Maryland - captioned)


“Prom Overdose” Public Service Announcement (Maryland - captioned)


“From Prescription Use to Abuse” Public Service Announcement (Maryland - captioned)



SAMHSA, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National

Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders/prevention and recovery in English and Spanish:

1-800-662-HELP (4357) / TTY: 1-800-487-4889

SAMHSA: Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
Find alcohol, drug, or mental health treatment facilities and programs around the country.


Treatment and Recovery:
Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC)

Before It’s Too Late is Maryland’s statewide effort to bring awareness to the rapid escalation of the heroin, opioid, and fentanyl crisis in Maryland, and provide prevention, treatment, and recovery information:


Updated January 30, 2023