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What is fentanyl?

See our health topic on fentanyl. 

What are fentanyl testing strips? 

Fentanyl test strips (FTS) are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in many forms of drugs. All types of drugs, including illicitly sold prescription drugs (examples include, but are not limited to Adderall/dextroamphetamines, Ativan/Lorazepam, Xanax/alprazolam) have the potential to contain fentanyl. Since fentanyl is extremely potent, it is often used as a cheaper addition or alternative to other drugs, and is sometimes sold masked as other drugs.

Using fentanyl testing strips prior to using a substance can prevent or reduce the chances of accidental overdose caused by fentanyl contamination. 

Who should consider obtaining fentanyl testing strips? 

Anyone using illicit, or illicitly obtained substances, should consider using fentanyl testing strips. Though the safest option is to obtain substances legally when possible, using fentanyl trips for any illicit or illicitly obtained substances can reduce the harms associated with fentanyl contamination.

How can I obtain fentanyl testing strips? 

CA Assembly Bill 1598 allows entities to distribute fentanyl testing strips in the state of California. UC Davis students can obtain testing strips at no-cost at Health Education and Promotion (HEP) during business hours. Also see: obtaining Narcan at HEP as an overdose prevention strategy. 

How do I use fentanyl testing strips? 

For detailed instructions on how to use testing strips, please see the CDC's resource on fentanyl testing strips. Additionally, students who obtain testing strips at Health Education and Promotion will be provided this information. 

What are some harm reduction tips and other considerations? 

  • Always trust a positive result; note that a negative is not always a guaranteed result. For example, a pill may be more difficult to test with certainty, given the composition of substances may be distributed differently across the pill. 
  • When possible, avoid using alone. It's always best to have someone around to help if an unanticipated situation arises. 
  • Every batch is different; test each time.