FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's a simple, yet controversial idea: a paper strip that can tell you if the drugs you have contain fentanyl.
Health clinics and harm reduction organizations across the country are distributing the test strips.
As fentanyl overdoses are at an all-time high in America, the strips are intended to be a quick way to find out if drugs like cocaine, Percocet, or Oxycontin are laced with powerful, deadly fentanyl.
"We have to meet people where they are. I think that the recognition from the harm reduction community is if fentanyl is out there, unless and until we really curb every single supply line of fentanyl. We really need to protect people in the meantime," said Interim Fresno County Health Office Dr. Rais Vohra.
Dr. Rais Vohra says the strips are similar to other at-home tests.
Mix the substance with water, dip the test strip in for 15 seconds, and wait 2 to 5 minutes for a result.
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One line is positive for fentanyl and two lines are negative.
Dr. Vohra says it's important to remember these strips don't eliminate deadly risks.
"Will not detect some of this newer stuff that we are seeing. You might have heard about a substance called Xylazine -- that is very dangerous that has some of the same effects as Fentanyl. However, it's a totally different molecule and won't be picked up by Fentanyl test strips."
However, as with other harm-reduction ideas, not everyone is comfortable with this idea.
"Kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't. If it's going to save somebody's life, how do we disagree with that?"
Findt Anderson is the Executive Director of Parents and Addicts in Need.
"There's an argument to that side that says that we are sending the wrong message to our youth that okay it's okay to go out and use other drugs if you want to. So that is the debate that is going on right now. Especially with people in the treatment field," said Andersen.
He says fentanyl test strips shouldn't be considered a solution.
"That is not going to help in the treatment process. These parents need to reach out to those of us that are in treatment, that have treatment programs because we are the ones that are going to be able to get the proper help to their child."
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