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Getting help

    If you or someone you know needs help immediately because of a potential overdose, call 911 now.

    To seek treatment for substance use problems or addiction, whether with prescription or illegal opioids, alcohol, or other substances, visit

    Here’s information on how to evaluate treatment providers to make sure they offer a quality program: Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders.

    To find out about naloxone, a drug to block or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and how to get a kit with two doses that you can keep on hand, go to our Reverse page.

How do I know if I’m addicted?

    Some opioids are legitimately used for treating pain, but many people develop tolerance. They begin to think obsessively about getting high and will do anything to do it. They also need more of the drug to feel high. Eventually, they will need higher doses just to feel normal.

    Tolerance to the effect of opioids and heroin develops faster than tolerance to the dangerous effects. This means people can take too much. These high doses can cause respiratory arrest and death.

    Answering yes to three of these questions means you are likely addicted to heroin or prescription opioids and need to seek treatment:

      • Has your use increased over time?
      • Do you use more than you would like, or more than is prescribed?
      • Have you experienced negative consequences to your using?
      • Have you put off doing things because of your drug use?
      • Do you find yourself thinking obsessively about getting or using your drug
      • Have you made unsuccessful attempts at cutting down your drug use?
      • Do you experience any of these withdrawal symptoms when you stop using?
            • Low energy, irritability, anxiety, agitation, insomnia
            • Runny nose, teary eyes
            • Hot and cold sweats, goose bumps
            • Yawning
            • Muscle aches and pains
            • Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

How effective is treatment?

    Treatment can save your life. But addiction is a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure, so long-term treatment is usually needed.

    The best evidence-based method for effectively treating addiction is through Medication Assisted Treatment. This treatment method uses medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

    Health care providers specializing in treatment can go over the pros and cons of each medication and participate in building a recovery plan that works.

    Go to our Reduce page for more details about treatment and recovery.


If you are using, use a clean needle

    In addition to the direct health consequences from taking heroin or opioids, there are significant risks from injecting these substances. If you use drugs, you at are a higher risk for HIV infection.

    You can get HIV from sharing drug preparation or injecting equipment (“works”) with a person who has HIV, by using blood-contaminated syringes, reusing water, reusing bottle caps, spoons, or other containers ("cookers") to dissolve drugs into water and to heat the solution up, or reusing small pieces of cotton or cigarette filters ("cottons") to filter out particles that could block the needle.

    You can also then pass HIV to your sex and drug-using partners. Injection drug use is responsible for approximately 10% of HIV cases annually. Being drunk or high affects your ability to make safe choices and lowers your inhibitions, leading you to take risks you are less likely to take when sober, such as having sex without a condom, sex with multiple partners, or sharing needles. Transactional sex (trading sex for drugs or money) can also increase your risk for getting HIV. Be warned: some people may repackage used syringes and sell them as sterile syringes. The only way to be truly safe is to always use new needles, straight out of the package from a safe source. Check these links to find out where you can exchange used needles for new ones in Alaska:

    If you use injected drugs, you should regularly get tested for HIV and other diseases like Hepatitis C. Find a location here: HIV/AIDS Prevention and Services Locator.