Opioids & Heroin

WHAT are they? Opioids are prescription drug pain medications such as Oxycodone, Morphine, Hyrdocodone and Vicodin. These meds attach to opioid receptors in the brain where they decrease the sensation of pain as well as invoke a euphoric and relaxed state of mind. When opioids are taken without a prescription they can become addictive and dangerous. To learn more, visit NIDA For Teens.

WHERE are they accessed? According to LockYourMeds.org, 70% of abusers gain access to their drugs via unaware family and friends.

In order to keep your medications safe, you should lock your drugs, don’t share them with others, keep track of the number of pills you have, and dispose of any pills you don’t use at local lockboxes and round ups.

These lock boxes are located in the following police departments:

Central County: Pittsfield, Dalton, Lee, Lenox.

South County: Great Barrington, Egremont, Sheffield

North County: North Adams, Adams, Williamstown

WHEN should someone be treated? Immediately! The Good Samaritan Law protects individuals who seek help for others after an overdose, so if someone you know overdoses call 911 immediately.

Opioid abuse is found to have a high connection with the future abuse and addiction to stronger drugs, such as heroin, which makes detection crucial at an early stage. When opioid users can no longer afford their addiction, develop a tolerance to opioids, or cannot keep up with the amount they need to satisfy their addiction, they begin using heroin. Learn more.

Treatment is available at the Brien Center, AdCare Hospital, and Berkshire Medical Center. More resources are listed here.

WHY are teens using them? According to the Assessment of Opioid Misuse in Berkshire County, the wide accessibility of opioids and the fact that the drugs are not “perceived to have a high risk to health and safety” because doctors commonly prescribe them, make opioids the drug of choice for many teenagers. In 2011, 16.1 percent of Berkshire County high school seniors reported using opioids in the last 30 days, but by 2013, the number of high school seniors having used opioids dropped to 7.5%.

HOW are we addressing opioids in Berkshire County? The Berkshire Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative, Berkshire County Pain Management Task Force, and many other organizations are working tirelessly to reduce the occurrence of abuse and overdoses.

For more on Berkshire County’s drug intervention plan see below:


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