Across the nation harm reduction workers are going out in the street, meeting heroin users face to face and testing their powdered drugs for fentanyl. They are not afraid because they know that touching fentanyl cannot kill you. They do take precautions. They wear nitrile gloves when they dip the tester strip into the powder. If one red line comes up instead of two, the powder contains fentanyl.
“Be careful,” the harm reduction worker warns the user. “Put two in the cooker instead of five.”
They take the user’s dirty needles and exchange them for clean needles. If the user doesn’t have Narcan, they give them a kit and the training on how to use it.
“Be safe, brother,” the worker says.
“God bless,” the user answers.
In Hartford, harm reduction workers report most of the bags they test contains fentanyl.
The latest death statistics out of the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s office confirm this preponderence of fentanyl.
For the first time fentanyl was found in more deaths than heroin. In first six months of 2017 80% of the accidental drug overdose deaths in Connecticut that contained heroin or fentanyl contained fentanyl, while only 64% contained heroin. 44% contained heroin and fentanyl. 36% contained fentanyl without heroin, and 20% contained heroin with no fentanyl.