Drug use is without question one of the most pervasive health issues in the United States today, with 70,737 overdose deaths in 2017 alone according to the CDC. That is roughly double the number of overdose deaths we saw in 2010. In that same timespan heroin overdose death rates specifically have almost quadrupled. What we are seeing here is a devastating increase in overdose deaths that can most likely be attributed to fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. A study done in Vancouver in 2018 showed that 90.6% of drugs that were sold as heroin contained fentanyl, and only 17.6% of those samples taken contained any heroin at all. Another Canadian study showed that in 2012 less than 1% of the street drugs tested in their study came up positive for fentanyl, while that number was over 60% in the first nine months of 2017. It is our belief that our traditional abstinence-based treatment methods are failing too many, and that harm reduction efforts such as supplying fentanyl test kits is in actionable way to save lives right now.
Fentanyl is an incredibly potent synthetic opioid, which can kill someone with a 2-milligram dose. Black market suppliers are opting to cut their heroin with fentanyl because it’s incredibly cheap and the high it gives users is similar to that of heroin. Mexican cartels buy mass amounts of easily available fentanyl precursors from China and then synthesize the fentanyl themselves through a process that is a breeze for most amateur chemists. This allows suppliers to provide “heroin” for a tiny fraction of the price of what it would cost to actually source true heroin. With fentanyl being as potent as it is, it seems clear based on overdose death rates that many of these black market suppliers aren’t being especially careful about their dosing. This becomes even more difficult when suppliers are working with increasingly common fentanyl analogues such as carfentanil. Carfentanil is estimated to be 100 times as potent as fentanyl meaning a dose of .02 milligrams can be lethal. Other fentanyl analogues being found on the streets include acetyl fentanyl, butyryl fentanyl, remifentanil, ocfentanil, and sufentanil. All of these analogues and more can be detected with our fentanyl test kits.
While we face this epidemic, the addiction treatment model we see most often in the U.S. hasn’t changed significantly since the 50’s, with the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous being the prevailing paradigm for anyone trying to break an addiction of any sort. The problem is that there is no proof that twelve step programs are indeed effective, yet most drug rehabs base their entire operation on the incorporation of twelve-step methodology. We have seen too many loved ones leave rehab only to continue suffering and spiral even further into despair and shame. In the rooms of twelve-step programs you will hear aphorisms thrown around often- one of the most common being “It works if you work it”.
So what happens when it doesn’t work? This is where we need to be helping the drug user the most. The reality is, not everyone is ready for sobriety. Not everyone will be able to benefit from rehab and/or twelve-step meetings. The purpose of our harm reduction initiative is to empower drug users to use cautiously, possibly saving their life in the process. Our free test strips are Johns Hopkins approved and have been tested for accuracy with fentanyl as well as fentanyl analogues. If you or someone you know might benefit from the knowledge that comes with these fentanyl test strips you can reach our ordering page right here.