Opioids (Heroin & Prescription Drugs)


Opioids are a class of substances that reduce pain, including physical pain, psychological pain, and emotional pain. An individual can develop a physiological dependence to opioids, experience opioid withdrawal symptoms between doses or use, and ultimately, develop opioid use disorder.

Opioids can be naturally occurring (derived from the poppy plant-opium), semi-synthetic (made in a lab but similar in structure to naturally-occurring opioids), or synthetic (made in a lab and not similar in structure to naturally occurring opioids).  Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the brain to reduce pain but cause additional effects like drowsiness. 

Currently, the most commonly used opioids are:

  • Prescription opioids: oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl
  • Illicitly manufactured opioids: heroin and fentanyl

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl are markedly more potent than opioid medications or heroin. As small as three (3) milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal. Substances containing fentanyl are the biggest contributor to increasing numbers of overdose and death.

Local Data

In the 2018 Madison County Teen Assessment Project (TAP) Report, about 1.5% of students reported using heroin or other opiates at least once on the 2018 TAP Survey, down from 3% of the students surveyed in 2014.

The rate of opioid-related deaths increased in 2020 among residents in Madison County, Central New York, and New York State (excluding New York City).

Narcan Box Request1

Rate of Opioid Overdose Deaths (rate per 100,000) by Counties in Central New York and New York State (excluding NYC) (2010-2021). Source: New York State Department of Health Opioids Dashboard, https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/opioid/


Naloxone (often referred to the brand name, Narcan®) is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of a known or suspected overdose emergency. This potentially lifesaving medication is designed to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes.

Since 2019, there has been a rise in doses administered with emergency medical services (EMS) is consistently responsible for the largest proportion. However, the number of times naloxone doses used provided by Law Enforcement has increased by 109% since 2020.


Naloxone Administration in Madison County by Organizational Type (2015-2022). 
Source: NYSDOH Opioids Report (2022), https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/opioid/


  1. New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. https://oasas.ny.gov/opioids.
  2.  New York State Department of Health, Opioid-Related Data in New York State. https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/opioid/

For more information and local data on opioids, please read the most recent Madison County Opioid Epidemic Report: https://www.madisoncounty.ny.gov/1754/Reports-Data.

Opioid Surveillance Data Dashboard
Last reviewed September 11, 2023