Drug Test Strips Still Illegal in Texas Despite Recent Rise in Overdose Deaths – State of the Fix

After the new CDC release data Regarding drug overdose deaths on Wednesday, Texas’ ban on drug test strips is receiving increased attention.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, a 15% increase from the previous year. The rise is attributed to challenges exacerbated by the pandemic: social isolation, loss of access to treatment, and the spread of fentanyl, a deadly drug 100 times Stronger than morphine.

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Texas had 5,033 drug overdose deaths in 2021, an increase of 19.8% from the previous year, which is still higher than the national average.

under Texas Controlled Substances ActDrug testing equipment is classified as drug paraphernalia, which makes fentanyl test strips illegal. Texas lawmakers couldn’t get law Project It would have removed criminal penalties for possession of drug testing kits that passed last year.

Biden administration set a file National drug control strategy last month, which outlines actions to reduce opioid overdoses and deaths. The strategy will expand access to high-impact opioid-reducing tools such as test strips and naloxone, a drug that rapidly reverses opioid overdose.

Harm reduction advocates say making naloxone more widely available and including clean test kits and syringes is critical to the state’s approach and will help save lives.

“Harm reduction is a strategy for keeping people alive, educating people about the dangers of overdose, preventing contagious infections, and improving people’s health by treating them with dignity and respect. … We are losing people in their prime to an overdose.[s]Kimberly Su, MD, associate professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and medical director of the National Harm Reduction Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving large-scale harm reduction strategies.

Test strips can be used to test drugs, powders, and pills for the presence of illegal compounds. The strips provide an extra measure of protection for people who fear that their drugs or medications have been contaminated with fentanyl. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal. Sue says knowing the presence of fentanyl can teach people to make potentially life-saving decisions.

“The strips are very effective in detecting the presence of fentanyl in a substance,” Sue said. “Anyone who buys anything off the street, people think they buy Oxycodone or people think they buy Xanax. Those pressed pills could be 100% fentanyl. They could have a little bit of fentanyl. Fentanyl is in cocaine. … Don’t you want them to They know what they’re using is fentanyl?”

In Harris County alone, drug overdoses are fatal more 52% from 2019 to 2021. County statistics show that deaths involving fentanyl rose 341% in the same period, from 104 to 459.

Meanwhile, the Travis County Medical Examination Bureau issued 2021 Numbers Which showed drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental deaths for the first time in a decade. Approximately a third of overdose deaths are caused by fentanyl.

In response, Travis County Judge Andy Brown said Tuesday that he and his commissioners would consider declaring a public health crisis.

“At the state level, fentanyl strips should be legalized. This is something that should be available to people in Texas, as it is to people in New Mexico,” Brown said during a news release.Interview For the local TV station KXAN.

Brown said he will work with state lawmakers in next year’s hearing to repeal the ban on drug test strips and invest more in treatment and recovery options. Adopting national strategies is critical, Su says, because increases in fentanyl and stimulant deaths show that drug criminalization policies have not worked.

“I had people who wouldn’t come to the clinic because they had narcotics or because they had arrest warrants,” Sue said. They will not receive services. …I watched my patients die because of these policies and I watched it happen all over the country. It is very painful and difficult work [of] Taking care of patients when policy makers make it very difficult for me to provide that care.”