Addiction & Overdose


Information for

Rhode Island Data






Information for

Rhode Island Data





Preventing an Overdose

Google icon Additional Languages

Click on the “ Select Language” drop-down in the top-right corner of this webpage to translate this guidance in 13 languages. For additional languages, please follow these steps: a) click on the Google Translated Spanish page link at the end of this paragraph, b) in the new page, click on the “Spanish” drop down and choose your language from the list, as seen on the below snapshots, c) start by clicking the additional translation languages page.

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Choose your language

Choose your language

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) offers drug overdose prevention guidance in 13 languages. Click on the “ Select Language” drop-down in the top-right corner of this webpage to access this information. Looking for another language? Please visit the ‘Additional Languages’ section above for more information. Topics include learning the signs of an overdose, how to respond to an overdose, and how to use fentanyl test strips.

This guidance is created in coordination with public health experts at Brown University School of Public Health and Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention (PONI). Additional resources will be added to this webpage periodically, so please visit often.

For additional materials in other languages, please visit the RIDOH Publications webpage.

Visit for more information on overdose prevention and harm reduction resources.

How to Recognize an Overdose

Slow breathing

A person may have very slow, shallow breaths, make gurgling noises, or stop breathing.


Trouble waking up or remaining unresponsive

A person may be awake but unable to talk, or may not respond when you try to wake them up.


Changes to skin tone

Their skin tone can turn grayish or ashen to bluish purple.


What to do next?

Call 911, give naloxone, and support breathing if the person doesn’t respond.

How to Respond to an Overdose

Check for responsiveness

Call their name and rub the middle of their chest with a closed fist.


Call 911

The Good Samaritan Law provides certain legal protection, whether you have drugs on you or not.


Give naloxone (Narcan)

Follow the directions for nasal or intramuscular naloxone kits.


Support breathing

If the person is breathing again but is still sedated, they don’t need more naloxone. If the person is not breathing, start CPR as directed by 911.


Recovery position

If you can’t stay to wait for help or if breathing is restored, put the person on their side supported by a bent knee.


How to Use Fentanyl Test Strips

Fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose in RI and can be found in ANY drug. Test each drug, every time. Carry Naloxone. Never use Alone.

Learn where to get and how to use fentanyl test strips at the Prevent Overdose RI site.

Crush and mix whole pill or rock (Best Practice)

If this is not preferred, bag residue or a piece of a drug can be tested.


Combine pinch of substance with 5mL of water (1 tube) in cooker

The amount of drug pictured on the pencil is enough. For residue, place 5mL water (1 tube) in baggie.

pencil with drug

Mix water with test strip

Hold the blue end of the test strip and insert the other end into the liquid, no higher than the blue line. Stir for 15 seconds.


Wait up to 5 minutes for results

Set the strip down on a flat surface and wait.
-One red line on top is a POSITIVE + result and means the substance likely contains fentanyl.
-Two red lines is a NEGATIVE - result and means the substance likely does not contain fentanyl.
-No red lines means the test is invalid .

Be careful: fentanyl test strip results are not 100% accurate.

Testing drugs containing Meth, MDMA, or Adderall

Testing these drugs requires using more water to avoid false positive results.
Follow the steps above but then add half a cup of water.


Graphic created by Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention (PONI).