Fentanyl test strips (FTS) are a cheap, easy, and effective way to prevent a fentanyl overdose. Many people who use illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), and methamphetamine don’t realize their drugs might be cut with the extremely potent and deadly opioid, fentanyl. However, taking a few minutes to use a fentanyl test strip can help save your life.
What are Fentanyl Test Strips?
Fentanyl test strips are a harm reduction strategy that can detect the presence of fentanyl in drugs. They are strips of paper that can be used to detect fentanyl in many types of substances and substance forms. It’s impossible to tell if a drug is cut with fentanyl just by smelling or tasting it—plus, you don’t want to taste drugs because even a small amount of fentanyl can lead to an overdose.
Using a fentanyl test strip, which is affordable and easy to use, can help you tell if your drugs have been cut with fentanyl or not. Knowing if your drugs contain fentanyl can empower you to decide whether or not to use your drugs as well as how much or how you use them (if you do decide to use them). Choosing not to use drugs cut with fentanyl can save your life and the lives of those you may be using substances with.
Where to Get Fentanyl Test Strips
You may also receive FTS through harm reduction sites, such as:
How to Use Fentanyl Test Strips
The most accurate way to test for fentanyl involves these steps:
- Dissolve all the drugs you plan to use in water and mix them.
- Dip the FTS into the mixture for about 15 seconds.
- Lay the FTS on a table or flat surface for 5 minutes until the results appear.
- Read the results.
- If the test is negative and you want to use the drugs, you can drink them or snort the liquid using a nasal spray device. You can also wait until the water evaporates.
Interpreting Test Results
- One pink line on the left: This means that your drugs have tested positive for fentanyl or similar synthetic opioids.
- Two pink lines: This means your drugs have tested negative for fentanyl. However, fentanyl test strips are never 100% accurate so there is a chance your drugs still contain fentanyl.
- One pink line in the middle: Invalid test results—retest your drugs using a new FTS.
Tips for Testing Drugs for Fentanyl
When using a FTS, make sure that you only use each one once—never re-use one. This could result in invalid or inaccurate results.
You also want to make sure to finely crush tablets and pills until they are a powdery substance. Then, add water to the powder and mix it well before testing.
If you don’t want to use the whole pill, break it in half and test a middle portion. However, know that fentanyl isn’t evenly distributed amongst pills, capsules, or powders—even if the middle part tests negative, there could still be fentanyl in other portions of the pill.
What to Do If Your Drugs Test Positive for Fentanyl
The safest thing to do if your drugs test positive for fentanyl is to dispose of your drugs responsibly. You can do this by mixing your drugs with coffee grounds, dirt, or kitty litter, and adding some water to dissolve the drugs. Seal the mix in a plastic bag and throw it in a trash can.
However, if you do decide to use the drugs anyway, here are some ways to reduce the risk of overdose:
- Try a lower dose and use it slowly, to observe any effects or dangers.
- Try snorting the substance instead of injecting it.
- Avoid using your drugs alone—let someone know you are using them or have someone with you.
- If you are using in a group, stagger use so that one individual is aware and alert in case they need to call for help.
- Make sure you have Narcan (naloxone) nasal spray on you.