Fentanyl Test Strips

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This past year, fentanyl, a prescription opioid, was responsible for 64% of drug overdoses. This exceptionally potent opioid is 10-20 times stronger than morphine. Deadly in even small quantities, fentanyl is an extremely dangerous substance. Recently, drug dealers have been cutting fentanyl into other street drugs to increase their potency. This has caused unsuspecting users to overdose accidentally. Read this guide from Avenues Recovery, a leader in residential addiction treatment and IOP rehab in the US, to learn how fentanyl strip testing can prevent fatal overdoses.

What are Fentanyl Test Strips?

Fentanyl testing strips were created by BTNX, a Canadian biotech company. The strips were designed as fentanyl urine test strips. However, it was soon discovered that the fentanyl test strips could also work to detect fentanyl when dipped into the residue of a drug. Since then, the strips have been used to test other substances for fentanyl.

How To Use Fentanyl Test Strips

Fentanyl tests are easy to use.
Here’s how to use rapid-response fentanyl test strips:


  1. First, a small amount of the drug is dissolved in water. The tests are very sensitive, so only a tiny amount of the substance is needed.
  2. Next, the test is dipped into the mixture for about 15 seconds
  3. The strip is then removed from the substance and left on a flat surface for five minutes.
  4. If one line appears on the strip, then fentanyl is present. If two lines appear, the sample does not have fentanyl.
  5. If no lines appear, the test is invalid and should be redone with a different test.

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How Accurate Are Fentanyl Testing Strips?

There is a possibility of false negatives or positives with fentanyl tests. The rate of false positives is about 10% and false negatives are about 4%.

  • False-positive is when the test determines that there is fentanyl present when there isn’t.
  • False-negative is when the test determines no fentanyl, and there is.

There is no risk involved if given a false-positive result. However, a false negative can be dangerous since a user would assume the drug to be free of fentanyl and not take any safety precautions. Despite the slight risk of a false result, the tests are considered safe and effective.  

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Where to Buy Fentanyl Test Strips

Fentanyl test strips are for sale online on sites such as dancesafe.org, bunkpolice.com, and even Amazon. At approximately $1 a strip, fentanyl test strips don’t cost much. In states where they have been legalized, you can also buy fentanyl test strips in small convenience stores and local bodegas. 


Where to Get Fentanyl Test Strips for Free

As well as the many places where fentanyl tests are for sale, there are an increasing number of organizations offering fentanyl test kits for free. In response to the frightening uptick in fentanyl-related overdose deaths, the CDC and SAMHSA have allowed organizations to use federal funding to distribute fentanyl test strips. Since then, many needle exchange programs and substance-abuse prevention organizations have sold test strips locally at a negligible cost, or entirely free of charge.

The National Harm Reduction Coalition [1] is a good place to start your search for free fentanyl tests in your area.

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Why Should Fentanyl Test Kits Be Available?

There are many different viewpoints and approaches to the current drug crisis. Some believe that providing any sort of drug paraphernalia or accessory (i.e. drug test kits, sterile needles and syringes, overdose–reversing medications, etc.) merely encourages and enables addicts to pursue their destructive habit further. The other approach is that of harm reduction. This approach dictates that addicted individuals will abuse substances regardless of what is or is not provided for them, so we may as well enable them to use as safely and responsibly as possible – and thus hopefully save lives. It is the belief in harm reduction that has spurred the legalization and widening availability of fentanyl test strips in many states.

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Fentanyl test strips were illegal since they were categorized as drug paraphernalia. However, the laws regarding drug paraphernalia are broad and are not generally enforced. Currently, fentanyl test strips are legal in 45 states. In 6 states where they are not permitted, they are allowed if obtained through a syringe services program.

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Why Are Fentanyl Testing Strips Considered Drug Paraphernalia?

Paraphernalia is usually defined as something used for a specific activity. When it comes to substance use, equipment used for substance use can be illegal. Testing equipment such as a fentanyl strip is considered paraphernalia in many states and therefore may be unlawful.

As the drug epidemic continues to spread, many states are gradually changing their perspective on harm reduction – and consequently, fentanyl test strips. Most recently, Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller has proposed legalizing fentanyl test strips in his state in reaction to the rising number of drug-related deaths. Miller said he hopes to introduce legislation next year to legalize the test strips across Iowa.

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    • Arkansas
    • Idaho
    • Indiana
    • Iowa
    • Massachusetts
    • Texas

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  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Many states are currently debating removing fentanyl test strips from being defined as drug paraphernalia to allow their use.


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Who Supports Fentanyl Test Strips?

Since the rise of prescription opioid deaths, federal agencies and organizations have backed the use of fentanyl test strips. They have also allowed the use of funding to be used for fentanyl test strips.

Agencies that support the use of fentanyl test strips include:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)
  • U.S. National on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Healthcare and advocacy organizations

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The Benefits of Fentanyl Test Strips: Overdose Prevention

In a study on the efficacy of fentanyl test strips, around 43% of those who got a positive fentanyl test result reported safer behaviors such as:

  • Throwing out the batch
  • Only using with someone else present
  • Injecting the substance slower or snorting it instead
  • Using less of the drug

Additionally, testing has been found to cause those who use drugs to think more before use. This results in more conscious and safer use. Another benefit is the interaction between a user and a fentanyl strip distribution program. The program can connect the user to treatment and resources.

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Testing for Fentanyl: Conclusion

The use of illegal substances always accepts considerable risk and danger. While fentanyl test strips work as a safety precaution and to prevent overdoses, they do not address the need for addiction treatment. Treatment for a substance use disorder can lead to a sober, successful life. Reach out to our admissions team if you or someone you know needs help to solve their addiction and find their way back home.

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[1] National Harm Reduction Coalition


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