Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention and Response


Click here for our quarterly harm reduction and opioid response newsletter: 

OVERDOSE EMERGENCY RESPONSE BOXES AVAILABLE! Let's increase access to Narcan! Meriden businesses and organizations can apply for a no-cost Narcan™ Emergency Box, sign and training by clicking on the picture below or call 203-630-4221. 


What is harm reduction? The National Harm Reduction Coalition (2021) defines harm reduction as a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs. 

Meriden has a program that distributes harm reduction materials and links persons to treatment and recovery resources. Please click here for information on the Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery (MORR) program or watch the short video below.

NALOXONE - Carry it!

Naloxone, also known as Narcan™, is the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal medication. It is a short acting medication that can reverse a lethal dosage of opioids by temporarily blocking the effects of the drug. Naloxone can restores someone's ability to breath allowing time to access medical attention. Naloxone can be administered into the muscle or as a nasal spray, which is fairly simple to administer and harmless if administered to an individual who is not overdosing.

WE OFFER FREE NARCAN™ TRAINING AND MEDICATION DISPOSAL BAGS. Please call Elizabeth, our Public Health Educator, at 203-630-4221 for more information. A free Narcan™ kit is given to everyone that takes our training.


What are opioids?

  • Opioids are prescription medications legally prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain (e.g. Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin). 
  • Opioids are also synthetically made in a lab and illegally sold on the streets (e.g. heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil). 
  • While pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short period of time, under a doctor’s supervision, opioids are frequently misused. Regular use of these pain killers, even when prescribed by a doctor, can result in dependence.

Why are opioids dangerous? Opioids are designed to relieve pain, but when taken in excess the body’s automatic drive to breathe is diminished. Mixing an opiate with alcohol and/or benzodiazepines, can be fatal as these substances also slow your respiratory system.

What is contributing to the rise in overdoses? A powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl, which is 50-100x more potent than morphine is being mixed into most street drugs (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines’, counterfeit pills). Due to it’s strength, it only takes a small amount to be a lethal dose.

Opioid Safety Tips:

  • Don’t Mix Drugs: especially opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol – they all slow your ability to breath.
  • Don’t use alone– use with friends, let people know when you’re using, always have a cellphone with you.
  • Be aware of your tolerance: Regular use builds tolerance, change in your weight, or recent abstinence can affect that. If you relapse, returning to use the same amount as you did before will increase your risk for overdose. 
  • Quality/Strength: Drug quality/strength can be unpredictable, know your source. 
  • Don’t share or reuse needles: Call 2-1-1 or click here for a list of local syringe exchange programs.
  • CARRY NARCAN! Spread the word on its benefits and encourage friends and family to carry it too!
  • Ask for help if you’re ready to get treatment for your addiction. Recovery from substance use disorders is possible—it’s okay to ask for help. Call Rushford's MORR program at 1-877-577-3233.

NORA - the Naloxone and Overdose Response App (NORASAVES.COM) outlines all you need to know on overdose response, including Good Samaritan Laws. Save it as an app on your phone for quick reference. Site is available in English, Spanish, & Portugese. Download it today!

Response - Create a plan of action so everyone knows the steps to follow in case of an emergency overdose situation. Notify family and friends where you plan to store naloxone so they can easily access the kit in case of an emergency. Click here for a poster that walks you through all you need to know! 



Have unwanted or expired medication, vitamins or supplements in your home? Take it to the drop box at the Meriden Police Department! It is available 24/7/365. Do not flush medications down the toilet! Flushing medications causes water pollution, negatively impacting our drinking water and environment. Please watch the videos below for step-by-step instructions on how to use the medication drop box.

STIGMA - Language Matters!

Stigma is perceived negative attribute that causes someone to devalue or think less of the whole person. Many individuals who have an Opioid Use Disorder often also suffer from unaddressed mental health issues, trauma, and ostracism, making the road to recovery delicate and complicated. Compassion in language used to address opioid users is key in creating social change, reducing shame, and illuminating a path to recovery.

Click here for a graphic of the language below.

Say This Not That!
  • A person with substance use disorder
  • Substance free, or negative or positive drug screen 
  • Person arrested for drug violation
  • Person in recovery 
  • Use, misuse, substance disorder
  • Medication Assisted Treatment
  • NOT that : an addict, junkie 
  • NOT: clean or dirty  
  • NOT drug offender 
  • NOT ex addict 
  • NOT Problem, habit or abuse 
  • NOT Opioid Replacement



All data is subject to change. Source: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The dashboard above is a summary of 2023 data from the Overdose Detection Mapping and Application Program (ODMAP). All data is subject to change. For suspected drug, fentanyl was 30 and opioid was 29. Thank you to New Haven Health Department for including our data on their dashboard.


CT EMS SWORD (Statewide Opioid Reporting Directive) Newsletters: