Local harm reduction and drug users' union activist Jess Tilley has discovered a quick, easy way to save drug users' lives
: fentanyl urine test strips can also be used to test street heroin itself, as well as other illicit drugs, for the presence of fentanyl. When distributed to users, the results these test strips show can make them reconsider using a contaminated and possibly too-potent bag, or influence them to do less of a dicey supply. These strips each cost only a dollar--a cheap price to put on the difference between life and death.
Fentanyl is popping up all over the place in Western Massachusett's heroin supply. We've also seen it in cocaine, Ecstasy, and pressed pills sold on the blackmarket as prescription drugs. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is 50 times stronger than heroin, and drug users ingesting it are at huge risk for overdose. In 2016
, drug overdose deaths went up to 34 in Hampshire County and 128 in Hampden County, mostly because of this deadly new factor.
Jess and Caty are two harm reduction activists representing the New England Users' Union who believe active users don't deserve to be sentenced to an easily preventable death. They're raising money to buy test strips for Jess to hand out in Northampton and the greater Hampshire County area and for Caty to hand out in Holyoke and Hampden County. Through chapters of the New England Users’ Union, the strips will also be distributed to users in parts of Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Again, each strip costs only a dollar yet provides a chance to save a life— a dollar from a small donation has never gone so far.