Jefferson County Dept. of Health distributed 9,000 fentanyl test strips in 2022


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The Jefferson County coroner’s office is reporting six suspected drug overdose deaths in 24 hours over the weekend. This is after 416 people died last year to confirmed drug fatalities in Jefferson County.

Jefferson County health leaders said opioids, like fentanyl, are killing people locally at an alarming rate. The county started passing out fentanyl testing strips last year and they have distributed thousands. But, the drug is still causing these overdoses, so they want to make sure you are using the strips properly.

“With overdose deaths in our community, it’s something we must pursue,” Jefferson County Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Darlene Traffanstedt said. “By the end of 2022, we had distributed around 9,000 fentanyl test strips. Each individual who requests them gets five per request, so that’s around 1,700 individuals who received them.”

Each kit comes with recovery resources and information on how to use the strips. They can find fentanyl on any type of drug, but you have to test the entire drug.

“There is an effect known as the chocolate chip cookie effect where there may be fentanyl in part of the pill and not the other part of the pill,” she said. “If you don’t test the whole pill, you could miss it or get a false negative result.”

Traffanstedt said the health department has now also seen an increase in orders for Narcan, the medicine that reverses an opioid overdose.

“From 2020, where we dispensed 1,085 kits, to 2022, where we mailed 6,600 kits, you can see that increase,” she said.

“Studys show that with the use of test strips, people are likely to modify their use, if the substance tests positive for fentanyl,” Traffanstedt said. “So, we are hoping that is what’s happening in our community.”

These testing strips are free, along with the Narcan. You can find a link to sign up for the training course and free kit by clicking here.

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