You’re hanging out with your friends like you normally do. Earlier you did a line, and now you’re hanging out and enjoying the after-effects. That is until you start to feel different than you normally do. It’s hard to focus, your head’s spinning, and when you try to talk it’s like your tongue won’t move. You’re not sure what happened and you don’t know what to do. You didn’t do anything differently than normal, so why is your heart slowly thudding in your ears?
An overdose can come out of nowhere. One of the most common reasons behind an overdose is due to other substances being laced into the drugs you’re using.
Last year, 67% of all overdose deaths involved fentanyl. The majority of these overdoses stem from substances being laced with fentanyl which usually means that the person didn’t know that it was in the drugs that they were using. Opioids, in particular, are responsible for a large majority of overdoses across the country. What many people don’t know is that there are tools available that can help prevent these overdoses.
Our compassionate team here at Pinnacle Peak wants to help everyone in our community be safe. We believe that continued access to educational and unbiased information regarding substance use and its effects can help people become more informed. This can lead to not only lowered stigma around substances and recovery but provide people with the tools they need to make well-informed decisions about their own health. Today we’re going to talk about how to test for fentanyl and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
What Are the Different Ways You Can Test Drugs for Fentanyl?
Is there any easy way to tell if something has been laced or contaminated with fentanyl?
When products are laced with fentanyl, it's usually a powdered form of fentanyl. That means for things like heroin, meth, or cocaine, visual detection is all but impossible – it would look identical to the rest of the product. There are some exceptions to this, though they’re rare, one being weed laced with fentanyl, which can sometimes be spotted visually if it happens.
Would you be able to identify fentanyl via smell or taste?
When substances are laced with fentanyl, it isn’t easy to differentiate what you’re tasting or smelling. In fact, since these are both common ways of ingesting different substances in the first place, you would be putting it into your system while trying to identify it.
There is a way to check drugs for fentanyl that doesn’t inherently put you at risk of ingesting it yourself, and that is through fentanyl testing strips.
How Do Fentanyl Testing Strips Work?
Let’s go through the step-by-step process of how fentanyl testing strips work as outlined by the CDC.
First, you can’t test a whole batch at once. Find a clean, dry container and put at least 10mg of the substance you’re wanting to test into that container.
Next, add at least ½ of a teaspoon of water into the container and mix it in with the substance. This is enough water for most substances except for meth, which requires at least 1 full teaspoon, instead.
A fentanyl testing strip has two ends to it – one which is wavy and one that isn’t. Take the wavy end of the strip and place it into the water. Let it stay there and absorb the water for about 15 seconds.
Then, take the strip out of the water and place it on a flat surface. It will take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes for the results to appear on the strip.
How To Read the Results of a Fentanyl Testing Strip
Just like most tests, such as a pregnancy test or covid test, there are three types of results you can get: positive, negative, and invalid or inconclusive results.
- Positive results - On most tests this is in the form of a singular, solid pink line on the left side. This means that fentanyl was detected in the sample you tested. If this is the case, your safest option would be to not use that substance.
- Negative results - Two pink lines indicate that the specific portion of the substance you tested did not contain fentanyl within it.
- Invalid results - If no lines appear at all, or a red line appears on the right but not on the left, then your testing didn’t work. Your next best option would be to test the batch again using a new strip.
Always be sure to double-check the packaging of the fentanyl strips you buy in order to ensure you’re using them correctly and reading the results right. While most fentanyl testing strips behave very similarly, the instructions provided with your individual testing strips should give you the most accurate information to properly read and use your strips.
How Can You Acquire Fentanyl Testing Strips?
Since 2021, fentanyl testing strips have been fully legalized here in the state of Arizona. This means that getting access to them is easier than ever. There are many organizations throughout the state that sometimes offer free testing, you can check this site to see if there are organizations near you. Additionally, Amazon also offers 10 packs of testing strips that are eligible for prime shipping, meaning they can get to you within a day or two.
Are Fentanyl Testing Strips Reliable?
No test is 100% accurate. While fentanyl tests do have a decent success rate, they’re not always accurate, and this is for a few reasons.
Fentanyl testing strips cannot detect other substances that could still be harmful to you and your body. This means that a negative test result doesn’t guarantee any degree of safety of use.
The second reason is that rarely is a substance uniformly laced with another substance. This means that just because the specific portion you tested is free from fentanyl, doesn’t mean that there isn’t fentanyl in your product at all.
Testing Street Drugs for Hidden Fentanyl
With all of this in mind, how often should you be testing substances for fentanyl?
Over-testing substances doesn’t have inherent drawbacks. It won’t dilute the substance you’re wanting to take, and a negative result can make you feel safer. On the other hand, under-testing does run an increased risk of fentanyl exposure in the long run.
Ultimately it is up to you how often you should test for fentanyl in the products you’re using.
Recognizing Signs That Should Prompt Fentanyl Testing
Fentanyl is 50x more potent than morphine, meaning that often it requires much less of it to feel its effects. Because of this, if you take a substance that has fentanyl in it without knowing, you run a higher risk of overdose or experiencing other side effects because of it. Here are some of the symptoms you can look out for that might indicate fentanyl use:
- Cramps and constipation
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness and impaired balance
- Lowered blood pressure
If you notice these side effects and they aren’t normal side effects for your or your friends and loved ones, it might be worth it to test the substance for fentanyl. Also, if you notice these signs, it’s also important to keep an eye out for signs of overdose. That can include pinpoint pupils, slowed or weakened breathing, choking sounds, limpness, clammy skin, discolored skin, or losing consciousness.
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How Can You Make Sure Your Environment Is Fentanyl-Free?
Any time you buy a substance from someone else, even if they’re a “trusted source” you can’t always guarantee that it is safe. No level of illicit drug use is safe.
Even with fentanyl testing strips, the only way to fully ensure your environment is fentanyl-free is through ceasing substance use.
Stopping substance use on your own isn’t always easy, but our team here at Pinnacle Peak Recovery is ready to help. We have master-level therapists and a passionate support staff ready to assist you through all stages of your recovery.
We’re no strangers to substance use and recovery. That means no matter what substances you’ve used in the past, our knowledgeable team can assist you in building a strong foundation for your recovery. This includes anything from fentanyl treatment to inpatient and outpatient services, too. We trust in our proven process so much that if you complete the whole thing and return to use within the year, we will bring you back for an additional 30 days of treatment at no additional charge to you.
We want to see our community reach their healing goals. It’s always possible, no matter your history, to reach recovery. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (866) 377-4761. We here at Pinnacle Peak are ready to help whenever you need it.