Overdose deaths are at a record high nationwide. The ubiquity of fentanyl and its analogues has much to do with the rise in overdose deaths. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100x stronger than morphine, and its analogues which are often even more potent, have been found mixed in cocaine, heroin, MDMA/ecstasy/Molly, and pressed into pills -essentially anything purchased illicitly - often unbeknownst to both dealers and end users. This increases the risk of overdose for people who use any substance including people using for the first time. Now more than ever, harm reduction is an imperative.
Harm reduction saves lives and decreases potential harms associated with substance use. Tools and strategies that reduce harms include: naloxone and naloxone training; syringe services programs; access to fentanyl test strips; overdose prevention centers; removal of stigma and barriers to treatment and to medications for treatment; Deterra medication disposal bag; anti-stigma work; increased public awareness and education; and grassroots work by peers, recovery supports, and prevention coalitions.
Naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, can reverse an opioid overdose and save a life. Learn how to use it and where to get it.
Fentanyl is lethal in small doses and undetectable by sight, smell, or taste. Test strips detect the presence of fentanyl, in any amount, that has been mixed in with other substances (e.g., cocaine or heroin).