$1 Test Strip Could Reduce Opioid Overdoses

If drug users are aware that the substance they are consuming contains fentanyl, they are less likely to consume it

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Two-thirds of the 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 in the U.S. were caused by a powerful substance called fentanyl that some dealers add to illicit drugs to boost their strength, according to a Scientific American article. A new study explores how three different fentanyl-testing technologies—all available to public health service providers—influenced how people used drugs. The most reliable method turned out to be a $1 test strip that detected the presence of fentanyl with 96 to 100 percent accuracy. About 70 percent of the 355 drug users they interviewed said that if they knew a substance contained fentanyl, they were less likely to consume it, or would do so slowly or in the presence of someone with naloxone—a medication that can reverse overdoses. Some cities are creating “safe consumption spaces”—places that harm reductionists think would really benefit from such fentanyl testing devices and strips. Some testing strips are being distributed by social service agencies across the U.S. and by a major drug injection facility.

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