Opioid Addiction

Frequently Asked Questions About Opioid Addiction

FAQs about OpioidsWhat are opioids?

Opioids are drugs that work in the brain to relieve pain. They can produce a high and can make a person feel drowsy and nauseous. Opioids include medicine made from the poppy plant (opium, morphine, and codeine) and those made synthetically (artificially) such as oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, and hydrocodone. Some people are given opioids by their doctor to address painful conditions or injuries, but opioids are also sold and used illegally, including heroin, “street” fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, and morphine.

How do people become addicted?

Addiction can happen to anyone from any walk of life.

The use of opioid drugs fires up the reward center of the brain. Over time the brain needs more or craves the drug to get the same high. This can start a cycle of brain changes that leads to dependence and addiction. Some people are more at risk of addiction if they have family members with addiction or are dealing with other mental health issues.

How do people get better?

Individuals who have become physically dependent and addicted to an opioid begin getting better by stopping use of the drug. When individuals stop using the drug, they get really sick and will have withdrawal symptoms. A doctor can help manage these symptoms. Treatment can include counseling, medication assistance, and recovery support. Long-term treatment and recovery can take time. Some people may relapse or use while working to achieve recovery.

Where can I find out more about treatment options?

Treatment and recovery supports are available and it is important to know that recovery is possible for anyone at any time. Asking for help is the first step. Your doctor can help you find options. In addition, visit the NH Alcohol and Drug Treatment Locator (www.nhtreatment.org) or call 2-1-1 for help finding treatment and recovery support options in your area.

adolescent with a stiped hoodie holds up a handmade sign, reading HELPWhat is naloxone?

Naloxone (or Narcan) is a drug used during an opioid overdose after first calling 911. This drug is safe and, when used with rescue breathing, can save a person’s life by helping them to start breathing. Naloxone comes in many forms, including an intranasal spray (spray you squirt into the nose) or by a shot into a large muscle.

If I use illegal drugs, will I get in trouble if I call 911 for help for an overdose?

No. A law passed in June 2015 protects anyone who calls for emergency help for an overdose from arrest or prosecution for drug possession.

Who should have naloxone?

If you use opioids or you have friends and family who use, you should consider having naloxone.

How can I get naloxone for myself or a loved one?

Talk with your doctors about getting a prescription for naloxone for yourself or a loved one. Naloxone is also available at no cost at some community health centers and public events in your community.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a substance use or an addiction-related crisis, call the NH Statewide Addiction Crisis Line at 1.844.711.HELP (4357).

Visit the Campaign and Materials Download page for materials to print and distribute to your community.