Wisconsin DHS distributes thousands of free fentanyl test strips
Free fentanyl test strips are now available at dozens of locations throughout Wisconsin.
Jasmine Zapata is the chief medical officer at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Zapata says the test strip distribution is part of an effort to help prevent drug overdose deaths.
"These fentanyl test strips are so needed because drugs mixed with fentanyl are the leading cause of overdose deaths in Wisconsin," says Zapata.
Fentanyl can be found in drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and pills that look like prescription medications. Zapata says she recently met with a group of parents whose children died from fentanyl poisoning.
"Unknowingly, their children died just within hours. It's one thing when we look at these statistics and numbers, but it's another thing when you think about the lives that are impacted," says Zapata.
According to a DHS news release, fentanyl cannot be detected by sight, taste, smell, or touch. People taking drugs not purchased from a licensed pharmacy should use the test strips by placing a small amount of the drug in crushed, crystal or powdered form in a container with water.
Zapata says within minutes, a person can know whether the drug contains fentanyl. "Only a tiny amount of fentanyl, as little as two grains of salt, is enough to kill someone," she says.
Test strip packages are free and include instructions on how to use them. The state DHS website has a list of locations where NARCAN is available, and a map of pick-up locations for fentanyl test strips, which includes many county and public health departments and human services departments.
People struggling with substance use can contact the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline by calling 211 or visiting addictionhelpwi.org.