Fentanyl is an extremely potent, dangerous opioid – in fact, it is the deadliest opioid drug in the world. Today, it is to blame for more than half of all overdose deaths in the United States. This is the case for two reasons. First, it takes just two milligrams of this substance to cause a fatal overdose; the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics calls this “the threshold of certain death.” Second, this opioid has become popular as a cheap, powerful filler in other street drugs. The rise of fentanyl overdose deaths, last estimated at over 42,000 per year in May of 2020, has sparked a public discussion about fentanyl test strips.
While fentanyl has only recently gained national notoriety, it has existed since the 1960s. Originally developed for the treatment of intense cancer-related pain, this semi-synthetic opioid was designed to be between 50 and 300 times more powerful than morphine. Today, it is responsible for tens of thousands of overdoses. Consuming just 0.00015 grams of this substance exposes a person to a significant risk of death – to illustrate how minute this amount is, consider that one teaspoon is equivalent to five grams.
Fentanyl is a lab-made, semi-synthetic opioid. Beginning in the late 70s and early 80s, people began manufacturing this drug in clandestine labs. Since this time, multiple variants of fentanyl have emerged, including one that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. In addition to the promised pain-relieving effects, opioids can have other effects that make them incredibly addictive. These include euphoria, deep relaxation, and disconnection from reality.
In recent years, dealers began to use fentanyl to cut other drugs. Because clandestinely produced fentanyl is so cheap to manufacture and so aggressively potent, dealers replaced more expensive ingredients with this substance. As a result, many people who die of fentanyl-induced overdoses did not even realize that their drug of choice – often cocaine – contained this lethal substance. Additionally, they are at risk of unknowingly mixing this opioid with other CNS depressants: alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates.
Identifying Contaminated Drugs with Fentanyl Test Strips
Fortunately, there is a solution to fentanyl overdoses – one that is expected to save thousands of lives. Fentanyl test strips were originally created to screen urine samples for the potent semi-synthetic opioid, but today, they have become more commonly used to test drugs before consumption. The strips are affordable and can even be found through local community organizations.
Additionally, research shows that those who used these strips and received positive test results were more likely to take steps to reduce their risk of overdose. Their preventative actions included disposing of the supply, using less of the drugs, or being sure to use in the company of others. Scientists and addiction education advocates are hopeful that the use of fentanyl test strips will create the ideal environment for people to avoid overdoses and, in time, to pursue recovery.
How to Use Fentanyl Test Strips
The use of fentanyl test strips is easy and straightforward. People dip the strip in a mixture of water and drug residue before using. After five minutes, they check the strip for their results. Seeing one line means that the sample contains fentanyl. Two lines mean that no fentanyl was detected. If the test does not display any lines at all, it is defective, and the process should be repeated with a new fentanyl test strip. Each strip should be used just once.
Break the Cycle of Addiction at Lakeside-Milam
At Lakeside-Milam, we understand the risks that people with addiction face every day. You deserve to live a safe life free from the fear of fentanyl overdose. If you are ready to embrace sobriety and take steps towards lifelong recovery, we’re here for you. Contact our admissions team to learn more about the treatment options available across our various Washington locations.