• If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1
  • If you need crisis assistance call 410-531-6677 or 2-1-1
  • Call us at 410-313-6202 to discuss Behavioral Health resources and referrals.

What are Opioids?

Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer. 

Risk Factors - some risk factors make people particularly vulnerable to prescription opioid abuse and overdose, including:

  • Obtaining overlapping prescriptions from multiple providers and pharmacies.
  • Taking high daily dosages of prescription pain relievers.
  • Having mental illness or a history of alcohol or other substance abuse.

Addiction and Overdose - Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. In fact, as many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction. In 2014, nearly two million Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioid pain relievers.

Examples of Common Opioids

  • Heroin (ILLEGAL)
  • Codeine
  • Demerol
  • Morphine
  • OxyContin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Vicodin
  • Tylenol 3
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxymorphone
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine
  • Burprenorphine, Suboxone, Subutex



Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the 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.

Risk Factors

  • People who are addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers
  • People who are addicted to cocaine
  • Non-Hispanic whites
  • Males
  • People who are addicted to marijuana and alcohol



Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed in the form of skin patches or lozenges and can be diverted for misuse and abuse.

However, most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects.


Additional Information
Possible Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Physical signs and symptoms

  • abnormally decreased or increased appetite
  • bloodshot eyes or large/small pupils
  • impaired coordination or slurred speech
  • runny nose
  • sleep changes (sleeping too much or too little)
  • unusual breath, body, or clothing odors

Psychological signs and symptoms

  • anxiety
  • euphoria
  • increased energy
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • nervousness
  • outbursts of anger
  • paranoia
  • spaced out appearance\
  • unexplained personality or attitude changes
  • unusual fear

Behavioral signs and symptoms

  • financial difficulties or unexplained spending
  • giving up hobbies, sports, and socializing
  • lack of care for personal hygiene and appearance
  • legal issues due to fights, accidents, or DUI
  • neglecting work, school, or home responsibilities
  • secretive and suspicious behaviors
  • sudden change in friends
Treatments for Opioid Addiction

Over 2.5 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder that contributed to over 28,000 overdose deaths in 2014. Use of opioids, including heroin and prescription pain relievers, can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome as well as the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis.


Where Can Friends, Families and Loved Ones Get Help
What if someone I know needs help?

If you, or a friend, are in crisis and need to speak with someone now: 

  • Call 1-800-422-0009 – the Maryland Crisis Hotlin
  • Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide—they cover a lot of issues and will help put you in touch with someone close by)

If you need information about drug treatment, help can be found at:  

  • Howard County Health Department – 410-313-620
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).  Call th
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP

Looking for Answers .pdf graphic


Howard County Resource Directory

This pdf guide to substance use disorder treatment can be read or downloaded here. (updated 10.22.18)


Where Can I Dispose of Medication?

The Howard County Police Department monitors and maintains four prescription drop boxes throughout the County where unwanted medications can be dropped off. The boxes are located in the following buildings: 

  • Northern District Station
    3410 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City
  • Southern District Station
    11226 Scaggsville Road, Laurel
  • Gary Arthur Community Center
    2400 Route 97, Cooksville
  • Community Outreach Office
    10741 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia

For more information, contact the Howard County Police Department at 410-313-2207. 

Additional prescription drug drop boxes are located at:

  • Maryland State Police Waterloo barrack
    7777 Washington Boulevard, Jessup

Some private pharmacies have installed safe medication disposal units for the public.  Among them are these four CVS pharmacies located in or near Howard County:

  • Elkridge: 6480 Old Waterloo Rd.
  • Ellicott City: 3300A Centennial Lane 
  • Laurel: 15100 Baltimore Ave. 
  • Olney: 3110 Olney Sandy Spring Rd.
  • Walgreen’s 10097 Route 40, open 0800-2200
  • Walgreen’s 15100 Baltimore Ave (Laurel City) open 24 hours

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