More people die of opioid overdoses in Wisconsin than car crashes. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is driving overdose deaths. People are often unaware that their drugs contain a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl. UWM recently added a new tool to its toolkit to help prevent student drug overdose and reduce harm. Fentanyl test strips are now available to students for free at the Student Health and Wellness Center dispensary.
The test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in different kinds of drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, etc.) and drug forms (pills, powder and injectables). By testing drugs for fentanyl, people who use illicit drugs or prescription pills obtained anywhere other than a licensed pharmacy can make educated decisions and reduce the risk for overdose.
Have a safety plan
A negative fentanyl test result does not guarantee safety — drugs may still contain fentanyl or other harmful substances. The strips should be used as one part of a larger safety plan. While not using drugs is the safest and healthiest choice, those who do use can take these additional steps to lower the risk of overdose and other harm:
- Don’t use drugs alone and tell others around you that you are using in case they need to help.
- If using with others, take turns to watch and wait before the next person uses.
- If you are alone, use the Overdose Prevention Hotline at Never Use Alone [1-800-484-3731].
- Have Narcan (the opioid overdose reversal drug) ready before using and tell others where it is. Visit uwm.edu/narcan/ for to learn where to get free Narcan.
- Always start with a small amount and go slow.
- Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol.
Call 911 if you notice any signs of overdose. Opioid overdose is a medical emergency.
Don’t let concern about getting in trouble stop you from calling for help. UWM’s victim assistance policy and Wisconsin law prioritize safety over citations for people who are drinking or using drugs.
Finally, reach out if you think you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol or other drugs. Please contact a professional at the Student Health and Wellness Center or the Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Help Line. Help is available and people with substance use problems can and do get better.