Test Strips Distributed In Watertown; May Reduce Drug Deaths

Test Strips Distributed In Watertown; May Reduce Drug Deaths

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They're about the size of a band aid, and they can help save the lives of drug addicts.

Tiny "test strips" are being used by addicts to test the heroin or methamphetamine they have, to see if it's laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is often laced with street drugs to make them more potent - but even the smallest amount can cause someone to overdose.

In January, representatives from ACR Health's syringe exchange site in Watertown started handing out strips to test for fentanyl in street drugs..

Shelby Anderson, ACR Health's program coordinator at the syringe exchange site, said 150 people have requested the test strips, which are 98 percent accurate.

"If one line is present (in the test strip), it means there is a trace of fentanyl in the substance that you're using. If there are two lines, no fentanyl is present," she said.

According to the Jefferson County Medical Examiner, nine people died from fentanyl related overdoses in 2018, 10 in 2017.

ACR Health is hoping the strips will help prevent overdoses that would have otherwise occurred.

"We can't stop people from using," Anderson said. "

"The test strips allow people to test their drugs, to be more safe about it and allow them to take control over how much they're using, what drugs they're using and if they decide they want to use them at all."

There is no cost for the test strips. They can be picked up at ACR Health on Franklin Street in Watertown.

(7 News photo: Fentanyl test strip at ACR Health)

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