Fentanyl Test Strips

Nechama Reis
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM
Last Updated
February 16, 2023

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. What are Fentanyl Test Strips
  2. How To Use Fentanyl Test Strips
  3. Using Fentanyl Test Strips – Downloadable Guide
  4. How Effective Are Fentanyl Testing Strips?
  5. Where to Buy Fentanyl Test Strips
  6. Where to Get Fentanyl Test Strips
  7. Why Should Fentanyl Testing Strips Be Available?
  8. Are Fentanyl Test Strips Legal?
  9. Why Are Fentanyl Test Strips Considered Drug Paraphernalia?
  10. States Where Fentanyl Test Strips Are Not Legal
  11. States Where Fentanyl Strips Are Legal
  12. Who Supports Fentanyl Test Strips?
  13. The Benefits of Fentanyl Test Strips
  14. Testing for Fentanyl: Conclusion

This past year, fentanyl1, 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 drugs2 to increase their potency. This has caused unsuspecting users to overdose accidentally. Read on to learn how fentanyl test strips can prevent fatal overdoses.

What are Fentanyl Test Strips?

Fentanyl testing strips3 were created by BTNX, a Canadian biotech company. The strips were designed to be able to detect fentanyl in urine samples. However, it was soon discovered that the strips could also detect fentanyl when dipped into the residue of a drug. Since then, the strips have been used to test other substances for fentanyl.

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How To Use Fentanyl Test Strips

downloadable fentanyl test strip guide

Fentanyl tests are easy to use. Here’s how to use them to test drugs for fentanyl:

  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 Effective 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 at 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, they are quite inexpensive. In states where they have been legalized, you can also buy fentanyl test strips in small convenience stores and local bodegas.  

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Where to Get Fentanyl Test Strips for Free

As well as the many places 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 sell test strips locally at a negligible cost, or entirely free of charge.

The 5National Harm Reduction Coalition 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 paraphenalia or accessory (i.e. drug test kits, sterile needles and syringes, overdose – reversing medications etc.) merely encourages and enables addicts to further pursue their destructive habit. 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 22 states. In 14 of the 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 rising number of drug – related deaths. Miller said that he hopes to introduce legislation next year which would legalize the test strips across Iowa.

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Sources: 6 7

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia – May be legalized in the near future, see here.
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Texas

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  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan8
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • 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:

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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 solving their addiction and finding their way back home.

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1The complete guide to Fentanyl

2Lacing other drugs with Fentanyl

3Fentanyl Test Strip Information

4Where to buy Fentanyl Test Strips

5National Harm Reduction Coalition

6Fentanyl Test Strip Legislative Analysis

7Fentanyl Test Strips can Save Lives

8Michigan.gov Fentanyl Test Strip Resources

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