Jefferson County Health Department hopes to distribute fentanyl test strips after state approves new bill

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The Jefferson County Health Department is working to reduce opioid-related deaths in the county after a new bill allowing fentanyl test strips to distribute has just been adopted.

Jefferson County Coroner Bill Yates said there were more than 315 fentanyl deaths in the county last year.

“A lot of people who don’t intend to use an opioid die from fentanyl,” said Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson. “Over the past year we’ve seen it in other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Even in some of the pills that are sold on the street.

But, the state legislature has passed a new bill to legalize the use and distribution of test strips that detect the presence of fentanyl in other drugs. Before that, you couldn’t test any drugs that were illegal under the paraphernalia laws. Wilson said these tips can help save lives and prevent drug use.

“It’s been shown in other states that are looking at this, drug addicts who have these test strips and use them and detect fentanyl, they’re actually more likely to change their behavior. They might not use the drug, use less of it, or at least use it more cautiously.

Those who oppose the new bill have said the offer of test strips encourages drug use, but Wilson said drug addicts are more likely to seek treatment.

“We think engaging people with help like this, showing them that we care about their survival, improves the chances of them coming for treatment,” Wilson said.

He said the Department of Health plans to administer them as soon as the bill becomes law, in early June. They will go in their drug rescue kits.

“You can actually order them online, they’re not very expensive,” Wilson said. “Include them in our naloxone rescue kits.”

Wilson said you can order any of the county’s drug rescue kits online. Click on here.


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