Drug Checking


Close-up of hands holding a fentanyl test strip.
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  • Potentially harmful substances like fentanyl and xylazine can be mixed into a variety of drugs without people knowing it, raising the risks of overdose and other harms. Drug checking (not to be confused with drug testing) is a harm reduction practice in which people check to see if drugs contain certain substances. Some drug checking methods (such as fentanyl test strips) can be used anywhere people use drugs, while other methods (like infrared spectrometry) are performed on-site at facilities like syringe services programs and overdose prevention centers.1, 2
  • NIDA-funded research3, 4 shows that some people change their drug use behavior when their drugs test positive for fentanyl. This includes not using alone3 and using smaller amounts of the drug more slowly.4 NIDA funds research to determine whether drug checking helps reduce harms associated with drug use, such as overdose.
  • NIDA also supports research to better understand if and how drug checking technologies can become more accurate, accessible, and effective. This includes developing and testing smartphone- and internet-based drug checking services, mobile drug checking facilities, and programs that integrate access to fentanyl test strips into overdose response and education.

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