Some worry new fentanyl-detecting strips could enable drug users, local doctors disagree

A new tool meant to reduce opioid overdose deaths is drawing criticism for potentially enabling drug users.

New fentanyl detection strips allow people to test drugs for the powerful opioid, the number one overdose killer in the country.

While some worry tools like this might encourage people to abuse drugs, local health care providers say addicts are going to use drugs regardless and the strips help keep them safe.

“Addiction is a disease. The enabling has been a stigma that we have been attaching to this disease for a while, and it’s like a lot of the other things we do where people say, ‘Oh this will enable people,’ but it really hasn’t been shown to do that. What it does is reduce deaths,” said Gundersen Health System Doctor Chris Eberlein.

Doctor Eberlein says the strips only detect some synthetic opioids though, including fentanyl. So he says if there’s a shift to other opioids the strips could create a false sense of security.

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