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substance and addiction prevention branch

Resources for people who use drugs

Resources for people who use drugs

Harm reduction is an approach to working with people who use drugs that aims to reduce harm rather than eliminate risk. Harm reduction means acting in alliance with people who use drugs to offer resources for safer and managed drug use to prevent death, injury, disease, and overdose. Below is a list of harm reduction tips and resources for people who use drugs.

This information is not meant to be medical or legal advice. For medical advice you should reach out to a healthcare professional and for legal advice you should reach out to an attorney.

Always carry naloxone.

Naloxone is a life-saving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, including from heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications. With a fentanyl overdose, two or more doses of naloxone may need to be administered.

Find Naloxone and Harm Reduction Resources Near You

This webpage provides a national community-based naloxone finder map to help people find naloxone in their community. Source: National Harm Reduction Coalition

Video Demonstration: How to Administer Naloxone

This video teaches you how to stop an opioid overdose using naloxone (Narcan®​ nasal spray).

Test your drugs for fentanyl with fentanyl test strips.

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl can contaminate drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine, and is often intentionally used as a primary component of counterfeit pills sold as opioids or benzodiazepines. There is always the risk of a fentanyl overdose when using street drugs. Fentanyl test strips will help you know if your drug sample contains fentanyl. Use fentanyl test strips with injectable drugs, pills, or powders. Read this if you think you need fentanyl test strips.

Fentanyl Use Information and Tips to Avoid Fentanyl Overdose

This website has information about the risks of using fentanyl and has several harm reduction tips to prevent a fentanyl overdose. Source: National Harm Reduction Coalition

How to Test Drugs Using Fentanyl Test Strips (PDF)

This guide has step-by-step instructions on how to test drugs using fentanyl test strips. It also includes tips to lower your risk of a drug overdose. Source: New York City Health

Syringe Service Programs in California

This website provides a list of syringe services programs (SSPs) in California that offer harm reduction services such as free fentanyl test strips. SSPs provide new syringes, collect used syringes, and provide education, and support services to the public. They may also be able to offer or link you to testing for HIV and hepatitis C, which can both be spread by sharing used syringes and other injection equipment. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) works closely with many SSPs to provide free fentanyl test strips and naloxone to improve the health and well-being of those who use drugs.

Video Demonstration: How to Use Fentanyl Test Strips

This video shows how to use fentanyl test strips to test your drugs for the presence of fentanyl.

Use sterile syringes when injecting drugs.

Find a harm reduction program in your community that provides sterile injection equipment and pipes.

Do not mix drugs.

Mixing drugs is especially dangerous.

Whether intentional or not, mixing drugs or mixing drugs with alcohol is not safe. Drugs taken together can interact in unpredictable ways and can increase or decrease their overall effect. Mixing drugs is associated with a greater risk of overdose and death. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Do not use drugs alone.

Never Use Alone Hotline

English: 800-484-3731

Spanish: 800-928-5330

This hotline is a free service that a person can call when using drugs alone. An operator stays on the line and will notify emergency services if the person stops responding after using drugs.

Find treatment and support.

  • Choose Change California is a Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) program that helps people with opioid use disorder and stimulant use disorder. This website has a list of licensed providers in California who specialize in these treatments. Once you are on the website, enter your zip code in the box in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage to locate licensed providers near you.
  • Be Empow(ER)ed!: Know Your Rights to Addiction Care for Drug and Alcohol-Related ER Visits (PDF) is a guide from the Legal Action Center. This easy-to-read guide can help you if you are not given the help you need.
  • Non-Emergency Treatment Referral Line (1-800-879-2772) is a DHCS substance use disorder referral line in English and Spanish that connects people to local resources and services from their County Alcohol and Other Drugs Program Office.
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988) is a confidential, free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week service that provides support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The 988 Lifeline offers mental health prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. The previous 1-800-273-TALK (8255) phone number remains active.


Narcan® is a registered trademark of Emergent Operations Ireland Limited.​

For questions, please contact us at opi@cdph.ca.gov.

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