Fentanyl testing strips can help prevent overdoses, save lives

A lethal problem has emerged around the country regarding fentanyl, a potentially deadly substance that has been added to various recreational drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and molly.

Fentanyl deaths

West Hollywood and the gay community have been significantly impacted — At least nine people have died after taking one of these recreational drugs that had been laced with fentanyl. More than likely, none of the nine who ingested the contaminated drug knew it was laced with fentanyl.

Fortunately, fentanyl testing strips are a simple solution to combat this crisis. The best way to know if your drug has been laced with fentanyl is to get a testing kit.

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be 100 times more addictive than other opioids (such as morphine) and 100 times as lethal. Fentanyl does have its place medicinally as a very potent pain killer; however, it absolutely requires a doctor’s prescription and significant monitoring. Still, the risk of fentanyl dependence remains concerning among those using it for pain management.

Fentanyl dangers, effects

You can’t smell, taste, or see fentanyl. That means you will not know if it’s in your drug of choice until it’s too late.

Fentanyl effects include drowsiness, nausea, confusion, breathing problems, and unconsciousness.

Because fentanyl is so potent, any amount carries high overdose potential, and the dangers can begin immediately after ingestion. That means people only have a few seconds to respond. A typical opioid overdose gives more time to react, which allows some time to administer Narcan (an overdose reversal nasal spray available over the counter, including California). Fentanyl’s potency may require more than one dose of Narcan.

Do not trust a dealer to tell you that a batch of cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, or other substances is free from fentanyl. They may not have full awareness of the product chain or they might unknowingly possess mixed batches of drugs.

Fentanyl Testing Kits

This fentanyl testing kit, available from APLA Health, indicates if a drug has been laced with fentanyl. Photo: APLA Health.

Fentanyl testing strips

At APLA Health, we have been working with vendors over the last year to provide kits that allow a person to test if their substances are laced with fentanyl. These fentanyl testing strips also include an instruction card and a list of APLA Health locations where more kits are available.

You do not need to be a patient at APLA Health to obtain these strips. Frankly, you don’t even need to tell us your name. Simply walk in to one of our clinic locations and ask any staff member for one.

Testing strips are provided with no questions asked; however, you are free to take advantage of the opportunity to speak with a member of our team to address any specific concerns you might have about kit usage, substance abuse treatment, and harm reduction strategies.

Extra resources

The Los Angeles LGBT Center, who also have free testing strips

National Institute on Drug Abuse

About the author

Paul-Roy Taylor

Dr. Paul-Roy Taylor is a licensed clinical psychologist and substance abuse specialist at APLA Health.

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