Awareness Matters!

Prescription drugs

Generally pain relievers - are available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include opioids (for pain), central nervous system (CNS) depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy). Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription).

Regular use, even as prescribed by a doctor, can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths. An opioid overdose can be reversed with the drug naloxone when given right away. Improvements have been seen in some regions of the country in the form of decreasing availability of prescription opioid pain relievers and decreasing misuse among the Nation’s teens. However, since 2007, overdose deaths related to heroin have been increasing. Fortunately, effective medications exist to treat opioid use disorders: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. These medications could help many people recover from opioid addiction. [NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse]

Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mix of dried, crumbled parts from the marijuana plant. It can be rolled up and smoked like a cigarette or cigar or smoked in a pipe. Sometimes people mix it in food or inhale it using a vaporizer. Marijuana can cause problems with memory, learning, and behavior. Smoking it can cause some of the same coughing and breathing problems as smoking cigarettes. Some people get addicted to marijuana after using it for a while. It is more likely to happen if they use marijuana every day, or started using it when they were teenagers. Some states have approved "medical marijuana" to ease symptoms of various health problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the marijuana plant as a medicine. However, there have been scientific studies of cannabinoids, the chemicals in marijuana. This has led to two FDA-approved medicines. They contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. They treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and increase appetite in patients who have severe weight loss from HIV/AIDS. Scientists are doing more research with marijuana and its ingredients to treat many diseases and conditions.  [NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse]

Note:  Marijuana is legal in Arizona for MEDICINAL purposes only.

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Other common names for heroin include big H, horse, hell dust, and smack.   [NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse]

Read more about Heroin and the dangers of use here:


Alcohol is the most widely-used drug in the world. According to the World Health Organization, more than three million people a year lose their lives due to their alcohol abuse. Learn how to help loved ones who might struggle with alcoholism so they never become part of this statistic.  Drunks may be represented as “funny” in movies and television shows, but just ask the family of an alcoholic. There is nothing funny about alcoholism.  Even when a person manages to function at work, it’s normally at home where things come unraveled. No one should have to struggle with addiction.

Tobacco / Smoking
Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.  Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.  Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:

 - Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
 - Illegal drug use
 - Alcohol use
 - Motor vehicle injuries
 - Firearm-related incidents

More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.

Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths.  More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.

The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.  [CDC]

For help quitting smoking, please visit:

Vaping / E-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, and other additives. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco. Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

 - ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
 - volatile organic compounds
heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead

E-cigarettes are very popular with young people. Their use has grown dramatically in the last five years. Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults. [US Surgeon General]

Further information about Vaping / E- Cigarettes can be found at

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin. It’s so potent that an amount the size of three grains of sugar is lethal to an adult. First synthesized in the 1960s by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, fentanyl was initially used as a general anesthetic during surgery. Its only acceptable, “on-label” use is for reduction of severe pain in cancer-sufferers. Today, the drug has two main sources: the prescription drug industry, and Mexican drug cartels.

Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or cocaine to heighten their effects. Combining these drugs is extremely dangerous, as while the effects are heightened, so are the dangers. []