Free Fentanyl test strips in Minnesota

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It is one of the leading causes of deaths among teens and young adults across America, leading to over a hundred and fifty thousand deaths between 2019 and 2021 alone. I am talking about fentanyl.

Just to put things into perspective, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is fifty times more powerful than heroin and a hundred times stronger than morphine. It has very high potency which is why it is often added to other drugs making it more addictive, powerful, cheaper and dangerous.

Now the Minnesota health department is rolling out free fentanyl test strips to help detect and prevent overdoses. I spoke to Rhoda Zarbok, a Health Educator at Rural Aids Action Network in Downtown Duluth, Minnesota on how to use the test strips.

”So we tell people to get a half cup of water, put it in a little bowl or cup. And we tell people, don’t test the drug itself. So most people get their stuff in a bag. We tell them to dump their stuff out and then dip the bag in the water to get the residue from inside the bag in there. And then but don’t leave the bag in there. Take the bag out or the cotton that they use and then you just open the strip and get out to where these little areas are and then just go ahead and put it in there and hold it for ten, 10 to 15 seconds. it’s like a minute usually. So you will see the result in one minute.”

This strips can be used to test for fentanyl in urine. Also the tests are reliable but not 100% as the best way to stay safe is to abstain from drug use.

I asked her why is fentanyl highly addictive.

”you don’t really get much physical withdrawal from meth. So they put the fentanyl in there to get them physically hooked, they put just a little bit in there. When you don’t have it, you’re going to get physically sick and you’re going to want to keep going back and keep going back. So this is not pharmaceutical fentanyl. Everybody, they hear fentanyl and they’re thinking it’s like the pharmaceutical kind. This is not, this is a synthetic opioid”

For people who will like to get the tests, they are available for free at RAAN office in Downtown and also via the Minnesota department of health website.