test your drugs

What is Narcan and why should I test my drugs?

March 1, 2023

Narcan can save someone’s life you didn’t know was using.

For the first time in United States history, there were over 100,000 overdose deaths in 12 months. Fentanyl is increasingly responsible for the growing amount of accidental overdoses. Currently, more than 60% of drug overdoses involve fentanyl.

It is now more important than ever to know the risk of contamination of street drugs and signs of an overdose and to carry naloxone.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.

Fentanyl Test Strips: A Harm Reduction Strategy

There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Both are considered synthetic opioids. Doctors prescribe pharmaceutical fentanyl to treat severe pain, especially after surgery and for advanced-stage cancer. However, most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, distributed through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.

Lower your risk of overdose.

In addition to using fentanyl test strips to know if fentanyl is in your drugs, there are other ways to lower your risk of overdose. You can take steps to keep yourself and others safe:

Keep naloxone readily available on you and at home. Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist about being prescribed naloxone (e.g., Narcan) if you or someone you know is at risk for an overdose. You can also check with your local health department or community-based organization to see if they distribute naloxone at no cost.

Avoid mixing drugs. Mixing multiple stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine, depressants like opioids and alcohol, or a combination of both can cause harm and potential death.

Don’t rely on a previous source or experience. Knowing where your drugs come from doesn’t mean they’re safe. And even if you have used drugs before, your body could react differently every time.

Never use drugs alone. Please ensure the people around you know when you have taken drugs in case they need to give you naloxone or call for emergency assistance.

Fake pills are on the rise and are increasingly more lethal. The DEA’s lab found 2 of every 5 pills contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. – CDC

Many fake pills are made to look like prescription drugs such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®). – DEA.gov


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

LRADAC has FREE Narcan and Fentanyl Test Kits available for patients and individuals with a loved one in need to help reduce the risk of overdose from coming in contact with opioids. For your FREE Narcan and fentanyl test kit, contact us at 803-726-9300.

What is Naloxone (Narcan)?

Naloxone is a medicine that is an antidote to opioid drugs. Opioids can slow or stop a person’s breathing, leading to death. Naloxone helps a person who has opioids in their body wake up and keep breathing. Naloxone is also known by the brand name Narcan.

How much does naloxone cost and where can I get it?

The cost varies depending on where you get the naloxone, how, and what type you get. Check with your insurance provider to see if naloxone is covered under your plan. LRADAC has FREE Narcan and Fentanyl Test Kits available for patients and individuals with a loved one in need to help reduce the risk of overdose from coming in contact with opioids.

For your FREE Narcan and fentanyl test kit, contact us at 803-726-9300.

How long does Narcan take to work?

Naloxone (Narcan) acts in two to three minutes. If the person does not wake up in three minutes, bystanders should give a second dose. (Rescue breathing should be done while you wait for the naloxone to take effect so that the person gets oxygen to their brain.)

Can Narcan wear off before the drugs cause the overdose?

Yes. Naloxone typically wears off in 30-90 minutes, and the person can stop breathing again unless more naloxone is available. For this reason, it is safest to call 911 and have the person taken for medical care.

Can I use Narcan on myself?

No, Narcan is administered to someone after an overdose has occurred. Because the individual who overdosed is likely unconscious and/or their movement and breathing are restricted, they would need assistance.

Will naloxone (Narcan) work if the person overdoses on something other than an opioid?

No. Naloxone (Narcan) will only work to reverse the effects of opioids.

Can anyone carry naloxone (Narcan)?

Yes, anyone can purchase and/or carry naloxone to help respond to an overdose. It is not just for people with an opioid or other substance use disorder. Having naloxone available allows bystanders to help save lives by preventing a fatal overdose.

Why is fentanyl dangerous?

Fentanyl is extremely potent relative to other opioids. It can more rapidly cause respiratory depression and arrest. Illicit fentanyl can be added to other drugs to make them cheaper, more powerful, and more addictive. People who use substances may be unaware if their drugs contain fentanyl.

Tiny amounts of fentanyl can be deadly, and the amount of fentanyl in substances varies dramatically, which can lead to a life-threatening or fatal overdose event.

What are fentanyl test strips (FTS)?

FTS is a harm reduction strategy designed to reduce the negative consequences of drug use, including the risk of fatal and nonfatal overdose. Anyone can purchase and use FTS to test for the presence of fentanyl in a drug.

Fentanyl test strips (FTS) are a low-cost method of helping prevent drug overdoses and reduce harm. FTS are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in all different kinds of drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, etc.) and drug forms (pills, powder, and injectables).1 FTS provide people who use drugs and communities with important information about fentanyl in the illicit drug supply so they can take steps to reduce the risk of overdose.2 Look for organizations in your city or state that distribute FTS, keep them on you, and use them!

Why is fentanyl in illicit drugs?

Illicit fentanyl is cheap to make and generally easy to produce. It is being distributed throughout the U.S. No community is immune from its impact.

LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.