SHARON, Pa. (WKBN)- More than 5,000 people in Pennsylvania died from a drug overdose between June 2020 and July 2021.
Officials say most of the deaths were from drugs that were laced with fentanyl. There is a test out there that can be used, but as of right now, the tests are not legal for personal use.
It boils down to an old law that would consider the personal use of test strips drug paraphernalia.
Drugs that are laced with fentanyl are known to be extremely lethal. According to the CDC, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia decriminalized the tests as a harm reduction strategy.
“Most people using those substances aren’t aware that fentanyl is even cut into them. So, those individuals who are dying of overdose, that is not their intent,” said Tracy Bornick of the Mercer Health Behavioral Health Commission.
Harm reduction is a way to begin opening the conversations of getting people to stop using drugs.
“It’s another way to help link people to treatment. So, it really does start a conversation with people that we may not have been able to have those conversations with so far,” Bornick said.
The bill is still being discussed in the statehouse. You can find more information about the bill, and how other cities have implemented the test strips here.
The behavioral health commission provides resources to the community, specifically those who are uninsured who are needing the resources to get help. If you are looking for information, they are available 24/7.
If you or someone you love end up hospitalized, Bornick says that the ER’s help get those individuals in contact with their resources as soon as they are able to.