BALTIMORE — Maryland's health department is beginning to hand out more than 66-thousand test strips that will allow drug users to determine if their heroin or cocaine has been spiked with fentanyl.
Studies at Johns Hopkins University and Brown University have determined that drug users will change their behavior if they know they are about to take fentanyl.
"Many of those people used harm-reduction measures such as going slower, having Noloxone nearby, using less..." said researcher Max Krieger in a video provided by Brown University.
But some states such as Arizona consider fentanyl test strips as drug paraphanalia, designed as a tool to continue their addiction.
In Maryland, health officials consider the test strips to be potential life savers.
During the first three quarters of 2018, 1449 people died from fentanyl related overdoses in Maryland. The final count for last year is not complete, but even the partial numbers are considered astronomical.
Users told WUSA9 they are well aware of the additional risk, but they are not able to stop their habit.
Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful that heroin and is used by drug dealers to increase profits by increasing the potency of smaller amounts of drugs.
Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford said fentanyl overdoses related to cocaine use are now overtaking heroin-related overdoses, according to the Annapolis Capital-Gazette.
Users mix tiny amounts of residue from the drugs they have handled with water to dip the disposable strips in. A color change indicates the presence of fentanyl in about thirty seconds.