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FINDING HOPE: Potentially life-saving device detects fentanyl in drugs

A new device aims to lessen the risk of overdose for drug users.
Posted at 4:36 PM, Jan 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 00:27:23-05

NAMPA, ID — The C.D.C. reports that since 2013, the amount of drugs laced with fentanyl has seen a dramatic rise across the U.S.

"I don't think anybody intends-- for the most part-- [to use] drugs to kill themselves. They're not-- what they're looking for-- they're looking for the high," said Sgt. Tim Riha, spokesperson with Nampa Police.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Increasingly, when a user purchases and injects heroin, they may not be aware if it has been mixed with fentanyl.

"There's a lot of dangers to how strong this drug is, and so they take that, and they take their normal dose; because it is so powerful, that's what ends up killing somebody."

Now, a new device aims to lessen that risk for users. Fentanyl testing strips claim to detect the presence of fentanyl in heroin and even non-injectable drugs like cocaine and MDMA.

"Even just the smallest form of fentanyl is pretty potent," said Senior Trooper Ryan Moustafa, Idaho State Police.

Based on the results of the testing strips, users would then--ideally-- choose to not use that supply.

"Heroin to begin with is dangerous drug that ya know individuals should not be using," said Sgt. Moustafa.

And Sgt. Riha says he see does see the device as mostly beneficial for drug users, but, he says, "We don't want to make it easier for them. We want them to quit, is really what we want."

The strips are designed to test drugs in pill or powder form, which Sgt. Moustafa says-- for Idaho-- is more rare.

"The heroin that we're seeing is in a tar form which makes it harder to incorporate fentanyl into."

The strips can be purchased through 501(c)(3) nonprofit DanceSafe.