It tastes a little sweeter than heroin.
If it is pure white, it’s not safe.
If I buy from the same guy, I’ll never get a bad batch.
These are the things we tell ourselves when we’re buying street drugs.
We know they are dangerous, and we realize that every hit could be our last. But we convince ourselves that we are so powerful and so intelligent that we will never, ever get tainted drugs.
If you think this way, you are wrong.
A lethal fentanyl dose is smaller than a four-leaf clover. And you will have to be lucky to avoid it.
If you are tempted to use testing kits to ensure your drugs are clean, know this. The tests can and do work, but they can’t protect you from the real dangers involved in illicit drugs. Only sobriety can do that.
Why Test Drugs?
No street drugs are completely safe. Everything you buy could be contaminated, diluted, or both. Your supply is not protected in any way, and neither is your health. But fentanyl poses a unique and real risk, and testing manufacturers hope to offer protection.
When you buy on the street, you know that your drugs could have fentanyl, especially if you live in an area where overdoses due to that drug are common. For example, in a study in the Harm Reduction Journal, researchers found that 53 percent of drug users in Baltimore knew they were buying contaminated doses either some or all the time.
When most people think about fentanyl contamination, they think about heroin. But it has been found in other substances too. According to the Florida Drug Enforcement Administration, for example, cocaine in the state is often spiked with the stuff.
Fentanyl is so dangerous because it is so powerful. It’s about 50 times more potent than heroin, and one little dose could make you feel:
Without quick treatment, that small hit could kill you. And many people are dying.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths due to drugs like fentanyl have increased 73 percent between 2014 and 2015.
Drug dealers are not going to stop using fentanyl. It’s cheap, easy to produce, and powerful. They want to make money, and fentanyl makes that possible.
How Do Test Kits Work?
If dealers won’t stop putting fentanyl in their drugs, what can you do to save your life? No matter what others say, you can’t detect fentanyl with the naked eye. You need to test your supply each time you take a hit.
Most test kits come with a strip. If you’ve ever checked pool chemistry or aquarium water, you’ve seen something similar. To use them, you:
- Prep the test. For injectable drugs, you load the needle and then add more water to the bowl. For inhalable drugs, you add water to your dose.
- Add the strip. The test is liquid-activated. You dip the strip right in.
- Read the results. Kits are typically clear and easy to read. You’ll see a series of lines that tell you fentanyl is present or not.
Fentanyl molecules are tiny, and they can shift around in the containers drugs are sold in. You can test one section of your drugs and get a clean result while the dangerous stuff is lurking in another section.
To be safe, you must test every dose before you take it.
Where Can You Get Test Strips?
An internet search brings back pages of results from e-commerce websites. Kits are inexpensive, and most can be delivered right to your house. In some cities and states, getting a kit is even easier.
In Maryland, for example, reporters say officials are handing out test kits to vulnerable people. Drug users can walk into a public health office and walk out with a kit at no charge. Sometimes, officials will even test drugs for you.
What’s Wrong With Test Strips?
Looking for contamination in drugs seems like a good idea, but there’s just one problem with the plan. All the testing in the world won’t keep you safe from the real harms involved with drugs.
Every time you inject drugs, you’re pushing bacteria beneath your skin. You’re flooding your body with chemicals that shouldn’t be there. You’re changing the way your brain works and how you respond to the world around you.
In addition, test strips don’t always work the way the developers intend. As reporters point out, some people use test strips to ensure that they’re getting the “biggest high” they can for the smallest amount of investment.
The more test strips that flood the market, the easier it will be for people searching for a big high to find it. And more people will die.
There is no safe amount of street drugs. There is no way to eliminate risk. Your best option is to stop taking drugs right now. A treatment program can help.
Rehab will help you understand the damage drugs have done. The therapy you go through will help you develop new habits to deflect cravings. You can get better. Invest in your future.