Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid medically approved for treating severe pain. It is generally safe when taken as prescribed and under medical supervision.1 However, fentanyl is commonly found in street drugs such as heroin, crack, cocaine, ketamine, and methamphetamine, and you may be unaware you are consuming it. Fentanyl can significantly increase the risk of overdose, and unfortunately, it cannot be detected by sight, smell, taste, or touch. However, fentanyl test strips can be used to detect the presence of fentanyl in a substance, which can help prevent overdose on fentanyl.2
Where to Buy Fentanyl Test Strips
Fentanyl test strips (FTS) are an affordable drug testing method initially developed for urinalysis, but they were also found to be effective at detecting the presence of fentanyl in drug samples before consumption.1
You can purchase fentanyl test strips at CVS (and other participating pharmacies), or you may be able to find them for free at your state’s local health department(s), needle exchange programs, and other community organizations. They can also be purchased online on websites like Amazon.
However, fentanyl test strips are not legal in every state. Some states consider them drug paraphernalia (items you need to consume drugs). For example, fentanyl test strips remain illegal in Texas despite their ability to save lives by preventing fatal overdoses.
However, many states are changing their policies to help prevent opioid overdoses and save lives. Tennessee recently changed its policy and legalized fentanyl test strips, no longer considering these prevention tools as paraphernalia.4 You can research state-by-state legality to find out more about access in your area online.
Nonprofits and Local Health Departments that Distribute Fentanyl Test Strips
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) granted federal funds in April 2021 to distribute fentanyl test strips at recovery and harm reduction centers to help prevent overdose.5
As a result of this grant, many local health departments and harm reduction centers now provide fentanyl test strips. You can check with your local health department for availability and information on where to buy fentanyl test strips in your community.
Buy Fentanyl Test Strips at CVS and Other Pharmacies
If fentanyl test strips aren’t available at your local health department and you are unsure where to buy fentanyl test strips, CVS and participating pharmacies often have them in stock. Depending on the legality in your state, fentanyl test strips can be purchased at certain pharmacies and online websites such as:
- Ovus Medical
How to Use Fentanyl Test Strips
There are three different methods to test your drugs for fentanyl:1,2
- Dissolve the entire substance that you plan to use in water first. This is the most accurate way to test a substance for fentanyl because it is not always mixed evenly throughout. (For ecstasy, MDMA, and methamphetamine, use one teaspoon of water for every ten milligrams of powder or crystal that you are testing. For all other substances, use only a half teaspoon of water.)
- Place the test strip with the wavy side up in the water. Allow the test strip to absorb the water for 15 seconds. Remove the strip from the water and place it on a flat surface for two minutes.
- Read the results. After you have tested your substance(s) and the results do not indicate fentanyl contamination, you can consume them safely as directed in your test kit manual.
- If your test is positive, it will show one line, and a negative result will appear as two lines. Do not attempt to use the fentanyl test strips more than once, as the strips are only designed for single use.2
Rather than dissolve all of the substance you want to test in water, just put ten milligrams of the drug in a clean, dry container. If you cannot test ten milligrams, at least test a few grains. The tests are highly sensitive, so a minimal amount is needed to detect the presence of fentanyl. Add water to the container and mix it with your drugs, using the same drug-to-water ratio and following the same steps mentioned previously.
Crush the substance that you wish to test finely on a clean surface. Place the crushed drug in a small, plastic bag. Seal it and shake to mix. Empty the bag and put your drugs aside in another container or clean surface. There should be enough residue in the bag to perform the test. Follow steps 2 and 3 listed above to complete the test.
What Fentanyl Test Strips Are Used For
Fentanyl test strips are used to detect small amounts of fentanyl and prevent accidental overdose.
A study of a fentanyl test strip community-based distribution program in North Carolina indicated that 81% of people with access to FTS routinely tested their drugs before use. Those who received a positive test result were five times more likely to change their drug behaviors to reduce the risk of overdose.1
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Illicit fentanyl, which is often found in street drugs, is more dangerous than medical fentanyl and has an increased risk of overdose.5
The DEA estimates that four out of every 10 counterfeit pills bought on the street or internet contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.6
Are Fentanyl Test Strips Effective?
Fentanyl test strips are effective. They can detect if a substance contains fentanyl, but they cannot detect the quantity or strength of the fentanyl. No fentanyl tests are 100% accurate. It is possible that your drugs could still contain fentanyl even if your test showed a negative result.2
Because fentanyl test strips are highly sensitive, they can detect incidental and clinically insignificant amounts of fentanyl that may just be present from drugs being packaged in the same area. That said, it is still a good idea to use them as a preventative measure.2
Fentanyl test strips can prevent overdose when used correctly and in combination with other overdose risk-reducing practices.2 This is important because approximately 88,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States between August 2019 to August 2020 alone.5
Treatments for Opioid and Fentanyl Misuse
Fentanyl misuse is dangerous and can be fatal. Users can quickly develop an opioid addiction and experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit or cut down on use. Fortunately, there are many forms of treatment available to help people overcome opioid addiction. Such treatments include: 7,8
- Individual counseling or psychotherapy: Individual therapy can help people identify their triggers for drug use and practice coping skills to maintain abstinence in the long term.
- Group counseling: Group therapy provides people with peer support throughout the therapeutic process.
- Family therapy: Family counseling helps those struggling with addiction to identify and shift family patterns that contribute to their drug use. It also helps family members to learn ways to support their loved ones in their recovery.
- Medication-assisted treatment: Medications such as methadone and suboxone can help people to wean off opiates like fentanyl or heroin and return to normal functioning in their daily lives.
- 12-step programs and peer support groups: 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous help people recognize their inability to control their substance use, surrender to a higher power, and find recovery through the support of their peers. If 12-step programs do not resonate for you, a variety of non-12-step programs also exist to help those struggling with opioid misuse and addiction.
- Inpatient rehab: Inpatient rehab centers are residential facilities where patients reside 24-7 for a designated period, usually ranging from 30-90 days, but long-term facilities also exist where people will reside for six months to a year or longer. Residential facilities offer a combination of treatment modalities, including individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, medication-assisted treatment, peer support groups, and sometimes, holistic therapies.
- Outpatient rehab: Outpatient rehab centers typically offer the same types of treatment modalities as inpatient rehab centers, but the treatment takes place on a part-time basis while patients continue to reside at home throughout the treatment process. Levels of care, intensity, and frequency of treatment may vary depending on treatment goals, patient needs, and the rehab facility.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, treatment is available. For more information on rehab facilities near you or where to buy fentanyl test strips, contact an addiction specialist today by calling 800-662-4357.
- Connection Department of Public Health. Fentanyl Testing to Prevent Overdose.
- NYC Health. How to Test Your Drugs Using Fentanyl Test Strips.
- Texas Register (2018, May 4). Volume 43, 18. Pg 2639-2854.
- Legiscan. (2022, April 4). An Act to Amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-17-402, relative to testing equipment used to determine the presence of a synthetic opioid.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021, April 7). Federal Grantees May Now Use Funds to Purchase Fentanyl Test Strips.
- Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. (2022. May 10). TDMHSAS Marks Fentanyl Awareness Day May 10th.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment.