Fentanyl-laced drugs have become a concern in the St. Joseph area, and some are calling for the use of test strips despite laws preventing their possession.
“As long as it’s being used for the purpose it’s being sold for, having access to these test strips could have a huge impact for those battling addiction and trying to avoid fentanyl,” said Capt. Shawn Collie, of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force.
Fentanyl test strips work by being dipped into drug residue dissolved in water. Within minutes, a person can know whether the drug contains fentanyl.
However, under Missouri law, having these test strips would be considered unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, which has some prevention experts torn.
“Obviously the first goal we have is to prevent drug use,” Collie said. “... But with the youth, who are a little bit more tech-savvy and know how to get these drugs online from complete strangers, these test strips can definitely be utilized and save lives.”
St Joseph Health Educator Stephanie Malita said test strips are hard to come by in the area, so the best option currently is Narcan, a device that delivers an antidote designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“We had test strips available at the health department years ago,” Malita said. “With it being illegal right now, it makes it difficult for us to get access to it and hand it out to the public, but we (the health department), along with many other agencies, do hand out Narcan, which is just as important when it comes to preventing an overdose.”
Collie said the drug strike force works with the health department, the Family Guidance Center and the St. Kolbe-Puckett Center for Healing to get as much Narcan into the Northwest Missouri area as possible.
“Test strips are difficult to come by, and a lot of these organizations may not have it on hand, but Narcan is a huge thing for drug users,” he said. “Most of the local agencies will have this available, but again, it goes back to communicating with your family and trying to prevent drug abuse.”
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