The opioid epidemic has been a continual struggle throughout the United States.
In the state of Pennsylvania alone in 2017, the number of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people hit 44.3 compared to the national average that was only at 21.7. It is suspected that most of these deaths are from opioids, including fentanyl, which showed the sharpest increase in deaths in the past year in the country as a whole.1
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and therefore puts the user at a greater risk of overdose than other opioids.2 It has grown in use in more recent years and can be laced with other drugs, unbeknownst to the user. Because of both of these problems, fentanyl can be extremely dangerous and lead to overdose. While some people will take steps to get better with professional help like our Philly opioid addiction treatment, this can only help so much.
The Growing Problem of Fentanyl in PA
While there have been improvements with new campaigns and policies, the Pennsylvania opioid epidemic
doesn’t look like it will end any time soon, especially with the rise in fentanyl. Some people are calling for more action and think that fentanyl testing strips could be a viable answer.
What Are Fentanyl Testing Strips?
Fentanyl testing strips (FTS) are small strips used to detect the presence of fentanyl and fentanyl-analogs, other drugs similar in chemistry to fentanyl. They were originally used in urine drug tests, but their use has expanded with the rising popularity of fentanyl. Some drug users have begun to use these strips to test the presence of fentanyl in their drugs before injection. To use the fentanyl testing strips, the user will dilute a small amount of the drug in water and dip the strip in the solution. After a short amount of time, the fentanyl testing strip will show either one or two lines. Two lines mean that fentanyl is present. These testing strips are currently illegal in Pennsylvania because they fall under the category of drug paraphernalia
Preventing Overdose with Fentanyl Testing Strips in Pennsylvania
Because fentanyl and fentanyl-analogs were found in 52% of opioid-related overdose deaths in 20163
, legalizing fentanyl testing strips in Pennsylvania may help.
Several of these overdose deaths are purportedly accidental and the result of the user being unaware of fentanyl presence. They may take what they believe to be heroin only and overdose because of the increased potency of fentanyl. In some cases, fentanyl has also been found in cocaine. Because cocaine users are not accustomed to taking opioids, they are at an even greater risk of overdosing than opioid abusers who accidentally ingest fentanyl. Many suspect that if fentanyl testing strips were made legal and more readily accessible, it would prevent countless deaths. Those in favor of legalizing fentanyl testing strips in PA also argue that doing so could help those who are not ready to enter a Pennsylvania drug rehab
yet. Others believe that these drug test strips promote drug abuse instead of preventing it. For now, fentanyl testing strips remain illegal.
If you or a loved one is abusing drugs of any kind, it is important to get help immediately. At Banyan Philadelphia, we know that drug abuse is dangerous and can lead to an accidental overdose.
Do not risk it. Get the help you need today by calling 888-280-4763.
Sources & References:
- NIH - Pennsylvania Opioid Summary
- CDC - Fentanyl
- Health PA.gov - Opioid and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program