Opioid use and cases of overdosing continue to rise. This page is intended to help individuals, families, parents and friends understand the risks associated with opioids and learn where and how to get help.
What are Opioids?
Opioids (also sometimes called narcotics) are powerful substances related to chemicals found in the opium poppy plant. Some opioids are used medically for pain relief, but an overdose can cause respiratory depression (your breathing becomes slow or stops) and death. Opioids are highly addictive, and opioid addiction and overdose deaths are a growing problem throughout the United States, including in Arlington County. Some examples of opioids include:
- Heroin (aka Black Tar, Dope, Junk, or Smack) is not used medically, but can be bought on the street and is injected, smoked, or snorted. Heroin is also sometimes contaminated with fentanyl, carfentanil, and other very potent drugs, increasing the risk of accidental overdose and death.
- Oxycodone (aka OxyContin, Oxy, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicet, and Endocet),
Hydrocodone (aka Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, and Vicoprofen),
Codeine (found in combination medicines such as Tylenol #3 or Robitussin AC),
Hydromorphone (aka Dilaudid), and
Morphine (aka MS Contin and Roxanol) are all strong prescription pain medications, sometimes found in combination pills with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or other medicines.
- Fentanyl (aka Sublimaze, Subsys, Duragesic, and China White) is a very potent prescription pain medication that is increasingly abused. Only a tiny amount can cause a fatal overdose.
- Methadone (aka Dolphin) is a long-acting prescription opioid that is sometimes used as part of the medical treatment of opioid addiction.
All of these drugs can be deadly, but help is available to treat people struggling with addiction.
Signs of Opioid Use
Below are signs of opioid use. Click here for signs of an overdose and what to do.
- Changes in physical appearance
- Loss of weight
- Slurred speech
- Unsteady gait
- Red bloodshot eyes
- Poor hygiene
- Increased isolation and need for privacy
- Secretive about phone calls and whereabouts
- Mood swings
- Extreme changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Poor attendance at school
- Little interest in family activities
- Spending more money with no explanation
- Sudden changes in friends – hanging out with other drug users
- Increased feelings of anxiety
- Neglecting chores and household duties
- Lying and/or stealing
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Increased defiance and talking back
ASAM Definition of Addiction
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of the brain’s reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristics biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individuals pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death. (American Society of Addiction Medicine)
Police Investigated Incidents Involving Opioids
|Calendar Year||Total Incidents Involving Opioids*||Total Opioids Overdoses – Non-Fatal||Total Opioids Overdoses – Fatal|
|2017 (Through 09/08)||98||37||11|
*Includes heroin overdoses, possession and distribution cases. (Data reflects police incidents.)
Arlington Treatment Resources
Arlington County Department of Human Services – Behavioral Healthcare Division (adults)
2120 Washington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
Arlington County Department of Human Services – Child and Family Services Division (adolescents)
2100 Washington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
Residential Program Center – Detox and Substance Abuse Recovery (adults)
1554 Columbia Pike, Arlington VA 22204
Nearby Treatment Resources
Fairfax County Screening
Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB)
Mental Health and Substance Abuse assessment: 703-383-8500
CSB Emergency Services 703-573-5679
Fairfax Detoxification Center: 703-502-7000
Inova CATS (Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Services)
Falls Church, VA