HealthDay News — Young adults who report injecting drugs or using heroin, cocaine, or illicitly obtained prescription pills report high uptake and acceptability of fentanyl test strips to detect illicitly manufactured fentanyl, according to a study published online October 18 in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Maxwell S. Krieger, from Brown University in Providence, RI, and colleagues recruited 93 young adults who were asked to either test their urine after drug use or test a drug sample prior to use. Participants received 10 rapid fentanyl strips for their personal use; they were asked to return for a 1-month follow-up visit. 

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The researchers found that 77% of participants reported using at least 1 test strip; 50% of these participants received at least one positive result. There was a correlation between a positive result and older age, homelessness, heroin use, injection drug use, ever witnessing an overdose, and concern about overdose or drugs being laced with fentanyl. There was a significant correlation between receiving a positive result and reporting a positive change in overdose risk behavior between baseline and follow-up. Ninety-eight percent of participants reported confidence in their ability to use the test strips, and 95% wanted to use them in the future.

“Our study shows that the fentanyl test strips are effective at preventing overdoses,” Krieger said in a statement. “A majority of our participants who received a positive result changed their drug-using behavior.”

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