What is fentanyl and why should I test for it?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 50 times stronger than heroin. It is used medically for the treatment of severe pain in New Zealand. Over the last several years, places like the USA and Canada have had fentanyl laced in many of their drugs, which has led to over 100,000 deaths.

Fentanyl and its analogues are dangerous, even in very small doses. If people take fentanyl without realizing, they can experience an opioid overdose quickly- and if they don’t receive medical treatment, they may die.

While New Zealand doesn’t currently have fentanyl laced in our drug supply, there is always risk. It is a good idea to test for fentanyl, especially if you aren’t sure what drug you have.


What is a fentanyl test strip and how does it work?

Fentanyl test strips are chemical tests that detect the presence of fentanyl and many of its analogues in a drug sample. The most common tests are the BTNX Rapid Response strips-they can be purchased from The Hemp Store or the Dancesafe store online. They normally come in packs of 10 and are inexpensive and easy to use.

Fentanyl test strips come with simple instructions about how to use them. This process involves diluting your drug sample in some water and holding part of the strip in for a few minutes. The test will react with fentanyl if it is in your sample.

Dancesafe has great information about how to use the strips properly for different drugs. (https://dancesafe.org/product/fentanyl-test-strips-pack-of-10-free-shipping/)


When should I use a fentanyl test strip?

It’s never a bad idea to use a fentanyl test strip and they can be used on almost every type of drug. However, there are some situations where we definitely recommend you test, even if you don’t think you have fentanyl.

  • If you are using heroin or other opioid drugs. These are more likely to be laced with fentanyl as they work in similar ways in the body.
  • If you are planning on injecting any drug. Injecting delivers the drug faster to your blood stream- if there is fentanyl in it, this method of using will increase your risk of overdosing.
  • If you think you have bought or been sold a synthetic opioid, fentanyl or ‘down’. It is always good to be sure whether you have fentanyl or not, so you can make an informed choice.


What can’t a fentanyl test strip tell me?

Like reagent tests, fentanyl tests strips won’t be able to tell you the purity or dose of fentanyl in your sample. They also can’t tell you which fentanyl analogue you have. Remember some analogues of fentanyl are much stronger and some are weaker than fentanyl itself.

Fentanyl tests can pick up on many fentanyl analogues- but not all of them. They also cannot pick up on other novel synthetic opioids that aren’t related to fentanyl- even though these drugs can be just as potent. They can pick up on carfentanil, but as it is dangerous in very small amounts, the strips sometimes miss it. Because of this, it is important to remember that a negative fentanyl test strip does not always been there is no fentanyl in your sample.

Despite the limitations, fentanyl test strips are one of the most effective tools we have for detecting fentanyl in drug samples.





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