Opioids are depressant drugs and include heroine, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone. Opioids may be prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain. Others are made or sold on the street.

An overdose can happen when you take too much of an opioid. Opioids affect the part of your brain that controls your breathing. When you take more opioids than your body can handle, your breathing slows. This can lead to unconsciousness and death.

It is important to know that you can overdose from these substances even if you are using a small amount. In Waterloo Region, opioids have been reported to be in other street drugs including crystal meth, MDMA, cocaine and others.  

Learn more about overdose, the signs and symptoms and risk factors on the Overdose Prevention page.

Below are some tips and resources that can help you start a conversation with a young person at home or at school.

Tips for Talking with Youth

  • The most important part of talking with your child is giving them time to share their worries or questions. Listen carefully and try to understand what they know about substance use
  • Take time to talk about the signs and symptoms of overdose and the importance of calling 911 in an emergency
  • Discuss the Good Samaritan Law  - This law protects from prosecution due to simple drug possession charges for anyone who calls 911 in an overdose emergency. Let them know it is safe to call 911 if they or someone they know are in trouble
  • Make a safety plan with the young person(s) in your life so they would know what to do if they need help and let them know that their safety is most important
    • If you think your child may use alcohol or drugs or be in situations where drugs are being used, talk to them about the importance of staying with a friend to keep each other safe
  • Discuss the harms of mixing drugs and alcohol
  • Talk about how opioids (like fentanyl) can be mixed in with other drugs. Fentanyl has been found in drugs that you can swallow, smoke and inject

If you think your child is using substances, naloxone  is an important medicine for preventing a fatal opioid overdose.

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