Last updated: November 27, 2023
The number of deaths by overdose involving fentanyl is on the rise. Using rapid fentanyl test strips to quickly determine that someone has drugs in their possession that contain the lethal drug is making a difference between life and death.
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid and it’s flooding into the United States in alarming amounts due to the open border situation. It’s incredibly cheap to manufacture and there are laboratories in China mass-producing the stuff 24/7. They market it to drug cartels in Mexico who send it across the border into America.
Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times as potent as morphine. That can seem incomprehensible to some but it’s a fact that can’t be denied. Even drug addicts shy away from using fentanyl in any form.
A hidden killer
The word is out on the street about this deadly drug and few, if any, take it in its natural form. Still, dealers buy it up at cheap prices to “cut” into popular street drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. It stretches the product they have for sale and, of course, that increases their profit.
If they add just enough to give the drug they’re pushing an extra kick, it’s sure to mean repeat business. Moreover, they get even more customers when word gets out about what they have to offer. But, let’s face it, the average drug dealer isn’t a chemist by any stretch of the imagination. So, how do they know how much is too much?
It doesn’t take much to overdose on this drug—in fact, you can use 4 grains of salt to visualize the amount. Can you see it in your mind? To think that amount of something can cause immediate death makes it a shocking picture for sure.
Drug dealers don’t bother telling their customers that they souped up their merchandise though. Fentanyl has a horrible rep on the street. It would be bad for business. So, addicts are unknowingly ingesting too much of the drug and overdosing—by the thousands.
Trying to make a difference
Back in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) began allowing for federal funding to be used to purchase rapid fentanyl test strips. They did it in an attempt to curb the dramatic increase in overdose deaths involving this deadly drug.
In a statement released from the department, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said, “We must do all we can to save lives from drug overdoses. The increase in drug overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids such as illicitly made fentanyl is a public health crisis that requires immediate action and novel strategies. State and local programs now have another tool to add to their on-the-ground efforts toward reducing and preventing overdoses, in particular fentanyl-related overdose deaths.”
Participants in any federal grant program can now purchase rapid fentanyl test strips for use. The strips identify whether or not fentanyl has been cut into other drugs.
The idea is catching on
Others are purchasing rapid fentanyl test strips to combat the ever-growing number of people who are overdosing on this man-made product. In fact, Philadelphia is just one of the states changing their laws to decriminalize rapid fentanyl test strips instead of listing them as drug paraphernalia.
Some cities offer to test people’s personal stash prior to them using it. Addicts don’t need to fear repercussions and are bringing in their drugs! Rapid fentanyl test strips are also being handed out for self-testing in some places.
The campaign is often coupled with an outreach campaign providing information about how and why drugs need to be tested for fentanyl. They are also suggesting that people never use drugs alone. Using the buddy system ensures that there is someone available to seek help or administer naloxone.
Naloxone is a medication used for the emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. Narcan is the most popular brand name. Especially, since fentanyl came on the scene, addicts keep it on hand in case an emergency situation arises.
And, with hidden fentanyl in every drug that it can possibly be mixed into, emergency situations happen all day, every day somewhere across the nation.
The road to the future
Drug addiction affects every American to some degree. If you are fortunate enough not to have a family member involved in drug and alcohol abuse, you’re in a minority in which many wish they could be a part. Even so, the odds are great that you know and care about someone who has a problem with addiction.
It’s a scourge that has stricken the United States and other countries around the world. In addition to destroying families, drug abuse in the workplace costs employers billions of dollars every year.
Drug use affects both thinking and motor skills. Someone who is using drugs is more likely to be involved in an accident. The people working around that person are at greater risk of being involved in an accident too.
The main reason that employers drug test is to provide the safest possible work environment for their employees. No one deserves to go to work and find themselves injured or possibly even hospitalized because their co-worker was impaired by drugs.
Distributing rapid fentanyl test strips is one way to try and bring down the number of overdose deaths. Eighty-eight thousand people died that way last year. Not all of them were related to fentanyl, of course, but an ever-growing number of reported overdose deaths show fentanyl as a contributing factor.
Continuing to put the word out there about the dangers of drug use is another battle plan. Schedule a drug awareness class for your employees. It could provide someone with the information they need to decide they would rather live a drug-free life.
And, that’s how we win the war on drugs—saving one person at a time.