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Prescription drugs are only safe when taken as prescribed by the person they are prescribed to.

It's a common misconception that using prescription drugs is safer than using illicit drugs, however, that's not true when they aren't used as intended. 

More than 30% CT students surveyed got medications from their home, someone else’s home, or were given the medications.

The most commonly misused prescription drugs are:

  • Opioid Pain Relievers (e.g. OxyContin, Vicodin)

  • Depressants (e.g. Xanax, Valium)

  • Stimulants (e.g. Adderall, Ritalin)

These are also the drugs that are most prescribed in Connecticut, which means it's easy for people to find these drugs in medicine cabinets. 

Image by Olga DeLawrence

Over 8% of Connecticut high school students reported taking prescription pain medications without a prescription or differently than prescribed.
Source: 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey,


Opioids are a class of drugs that include painkillers like oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and many others. When used on a regular basis, even if they are prescribed by a doctor, can lead to dependence and overdose when misused. Heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are also opioids.

Signs of Addiction

  • The strong desire to use opioids

  • The inability to control or reduce use of opioids

  • Development of a tolerance

  • Showing signs of withdrawal after stopping or reducing use

  • Difficulty meeting social and/or work commitments

  • Experiencing legal problems due to substance use

  • Spending large amounts of time accessing opioids


Learn more about medication misuse at Partnership to End Addiction

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You Can Prevent Prescription Drug Misuse!

Have a Conversation

Have age-appropriate discussions about the dangers of taking RX medications. 

Here are some tips to start the conversation.

Lock Your Medications

All medications in your home should be stored in a secure place away from kids and pets. A lock box is the best option. 

Get Rid of Unused or Unwanted Medications

If you have unused or unwanted medications in your home, it's important to properly dispose of them.

Find a medication drop box near you OR learn how to safely dispose at home.

Fake Pills

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When people become dependent on prescription drugs and they can no longer get them, they may turn to social media or the streets to find pills. This is deadlier than ever.


As of October 2023, the DEA has taken 62 MILLION fake pills off the streets and lab tests found 7 out of 10 fake pills contained a LETHAL dose of fentanyl. 

These pills are illegally manufactured and look just like the real thing. There is no way to tell by looking at the pill whether it's real or fake. Click the images below to download fact sheets, tips for talking with your kids and where to find fentanyl test strips.

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Preventing & Responding to Overdose

Fentanyl test strips are harm reduction tools that can be used to identify if fentanyl is present in pills, powders or injectable drugs. The tests are highly sensitive, but it is possible that fentanyl can still be present in the part of the substance that was not tested. To test a substance:

  • Dissolve a small amount of substance in water

  • Dip the test strip into the liquid for 15 seconds

  • Read result after 5 minutes

Get Fentanyl Test Strips:

  • Liberation Programs – 855.542.7764

  • Stamford CARES – 203.977.5296

Signs of an Overdose

  • Small, constricted "pinpoint pupils"

  • Falling asleep/loss of consciousness/limp body

  • Shallow or slow breathing

  • Pale, blue, or ashen-colored skin

  • Choking or gurgling sounds

What to Do

  • Call 911 Immediately

  • Administer Narcan

  • Support the person's breathing

  • Stay with them until the ambulance arrives


Xylazine is a veterinary tranquilizer that is being added to substances like fentanyl, making them even deadlier. Since it is not an opioid, a Xylazine overdose cannot be reversed with Narcan. Anytime an overdose is suspected, you should still administer Narcan.

Xylazine first appeared in Connecticut in 2019. In 2022 there were 354 fatal overdoses involving a combination of Xylazine and fentanyl. As of October 2023, there have been 185 deaths from a xylazine/fentanyl combination. 

Click the image to learn more about Xylazine.

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  • Find information on prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery.

  • Also get tips on safe prescription medication storage and disposal, information of statewide initiatives and campaigns, strategies for overdose prevention, and access to treatment and recovery supports.

Visit Website


Change the Script

  • Change the Script is a statewide public awareness campaign to help communities deal with the prescription drug and opioids misuse crisis. 

  • Find prevention, treatment and recovery resources.

Visit Website

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  • LiveLOUD supports coordinated efforts to confront and prevent the increase in opioid addiction across the State of Connecticut.

  • For youth resources, visit LiveLOUD Families.

Visit Website


People's Opioid Project

View their library of ready-made, research-driven risk education and misuse prevention materials for partners across the country to license, customize, and implement in their communities.

Visit Website

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Courage to Speak Foundation

  • Mission: Saving lives by educating and empowering youth to be drug free and encouraging parents to talk to their children about the danger of drugs.

  • Facts and resources for families.

Visit Website

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You Think You Know CT

  • You Think You Know offers a variety of information and resources to educate about fake pills and fentanyl.

Visit Website

Opioid Refusal form CT VNOD Form_FINAL (
Fake Pills
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