April 28, 2022
Q: I’m a recreational drug user. What can I do to stay safe from fentanyl?
A: This question is so important. We all know the risks of fentanyl are incredibly serious. We’ve lost too many lives from overdoses already.
First, I’m proud of you for being prepared and prioritizing your safety. We’re here to provide resources, without judgment.
The most important piece of advice we have is to never assume anything. A common misconception is that fentanyl is only found in opioids like heroin or pressed pills like Xanax, but the reality is that fentanyl is being found significantly more often and in a wider variety of substances than we’ve ever seen before. More and more reports of fentanyl-laced cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine are surfacing.
If you’re planning to use drugs, we strongly recommend the following precautions.
If you’re actively using drugs or around people who may be using drugs, keep Narcan with you at all times to reverse the effects of an overdose. Make sure you understand how to administer the spray and how it should be stored. Narcan is available at many pharmacies throughout the country, but availability may vary from state to state. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to get it from a local harm reduction organization or from your health department.
- NEXT Distro has affiliates in most states who provide Naloxone. They also have lists of local and national harm reduction-oriented resources you can access.
- The Chris Atwood Foundation is a peer-driven community organization that mails Naloxone at no cost after the completion of a brief training video and quiz.
- The National Harm Reduction Coalition has a national list of Narcan providers as well as other harm reduction programs that can offer additional supplies.
Testing your drugs for fentanyl is an important step to staying safe. Like I previously mentioned, fentanyl can be in just about anything. It’s important to ensure your supply isn’t contaminated.
- Fentanyl test strips can be used to test almost anything. They are also fairly inexpensive – they can purchased for as little as $1-2 per strip from resources like DanceSafe, Dose Test or Bunk Police.
- The procedure for using test strips is very simple and only takes 15 seconds to see a result. Learn how to use test strips here.
Never use alone
We recommend always using while you’re around someone you know and trust who can help keep an eye on you if you do experience symptoms of an overdose. There’s safety in numbers. If you were to experience an overdose, someone can use to Narcan to revive you and/or call the paramedics. Most states have Good Samaritan laws, so you’re protected if you or someone you know requires aid after an overdose.
If you can’t have someone physically with you while you’re using, tell someone your location and let them know what to do if you become unresponsive. Find a friend who won’t judge you – which easier said than done, of course – and who will put your safety first.
- If you decide to use while you’re by yourself, consider utilizing the Never Use Alone Hotline. This national hotline is available 24/7, run by trained volunteers and is an excellent, life-saving resource. An operator will ask your first name, location, and the number you’re calling from and will stay on the line with you while you use. If at any point you stop responding, they will contact emergency services and let them know there is an unresponsive person at your location.
If you have more questions or are looking for local resources in South Dakota or Colorado, please reach out to us at Face It TOGETHER. We usually have free Narcan and testing strips available in our offices and can help connect you to other organizations who can help.
Please stay safe.
This content was written with input from Love Alive, a harm reduction organization in Colorado Springs, CO. Learn more about their work on Instagram.