Testing drugs can reduce fentanyl overdoses

By Zach Wilm, Staff Writer

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 30-50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl poses a threat to college students as many drugs have been increasingly reported to be cut with fentanyl, such as common party drugs cocaine, Adderall, Xanax, Molly, or even marijuana, making these already unsafe substances even more dangerous.

The risk and danger becomes more prevalent with college students as they are more likely to experiment with drugs and might be unaware of the risks that they are taking. According to the CDC, college students are more likely to use illicit drugs than their non-college peers. The CDC also claims that college students are more likely to misuse prescription opioids than their non-college friends. This is linked to the newfound freedom of being away from home, away from parental supervision,which may lead to more experimenting with drugs.

The risk of a drug overdose is not just limited to college students. The CDC also reports that about 150 people die from fentanyl-related incidents every day. The number of fentanyl overdoses increased more than ten times between 2013 and 2017. Every person that takes recreational drugs is at risk of a fentanyl overdose.

The risk of fentanyl-laced drugs is prevalent because it is virtually undetectable. Fentanyl is odorless and tasteless, making it very difficult to look for without a testing kit. This means that users may be unaware that they are taking a drug that has been laced with fentanyl.

One user, who wants to remain anonymous, described her experience with taking Molly which had been laced with fentanyl.

She described it as being a horrifying, surreal experience. She said she had no idea that the Molly had been laced with fentanyl. She claims to have heard about drug lacing before but was unaware of how dangerous it could be. She says that she started to feel extremely anxious and paranoid, then she began to have difficulty breathing.

After this had gone on for quite some time, she realized she needed help. She called for an ambulance, and one was able to show up in time and insert Narcan into her nose. Narcan is naloxone an overdose-reversing medicine. The EMT warned her that what she had taken was an extremely harmful drug and that she was lucky to be alive.

She advises all to stay away from substances that may be laced with fentanyl. She says it is not worth the risk — it is a very powerful substance that is dangerous and can carry many serious consequences. Her message was,  no high is worth the risk of taking something that could be laced with fentanyl.

Of course, just telling people not to do something is not enough. Harm reduction is an approach used to reduce the risk associated with drug use without requiring abstinence. There are methods for testing substances for fentanyl before using them.

One of the most effective tools used for harm reduction is testing the substance with a fentanyl testing strip, which allows the user to test for the presence of fentanyl. Testing strips are widely available and can be picked up at any clinic or local pharmacy. Testing strips are incredibly accurate and can save a life from a potentially deadly situation. They are also sanitary as they are disposable, so there is no need to run the risk of worrying about cross-contamination. They are straightforward to use — add a pinch of your substance with 10 ml of water, mix it around and insert the testing strip for ten seconds. If two lines appear, you know that the substance has been laced with fentanyl.

The end message here is if users won’t stop their behaviors, it is important for them to find a safer way. Fentanyl is a dangerous substance with many hazardous outcomes. An overdose is not worth it as it is very preventable by the simple step of testing drugs.

Also for information on how to get free overdose-reversing drugs, visit https://www.mchenrycountyil.gov/Home/Components/News/News/17261/17?backlist=%2F