Drug control strips are now available to more Saskatchewan residents.
The provincial government announced Tuesday that access to the Fentanyl and Benzodiazepine drug control strips will be expanded to more than 30 locations in Saskatchewan. The strips are designed for home drug control.
The government’s hope is that the test strips will help reduce the number of overdose deaths in the province.
“The tragedy of overdose and street drug deaths continues to weigh heavily on our communities,” declared Addiction and Mental Health Minister Everett Hindley in Tuesday’s announcement. “Our government remains committed to expanding addiction services, and providing widespread access to drug control strips is a way to save lives.”
Before Tuesday’s announcement, the test strips were only available in Regina and Saskatoon. Now the strips are accessible in communities like Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Yorkton, and others.
Sask. The government provides drug test strips in Regina, Saskatoon.
Fentanyl, a drug you cannot see, smell or taste, has been involved in 108 of the 149 confirmed accidental deaths from toxic drugs in 2021 in Saskatchewan. The drug is 50 to 100 times more toxic than other opiates.
Authorities say that mixing benzodiazepines (benzos) with opioids increases the risk of overdose, as both have sedative properties. The government also notes that naloxone, which normally reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is not effective in counteracting benzodiazepines.
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“We are grateful every time we see the adoption of evidence-based harm reduction measures on a large scale,” said Marie Agioritis, who serves as the Saskatchewan leader of Mom’s Stop the Harm Canada.
“It gives me hope that someone else’s mother can avoid the pain of burying a child. These test strips will save lives. Let’s leave them in the hands of the people who need them. “
However, a negative test strip result does not guarantee the substance is safe, according to the government.
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The test strips will only identify if certain fentanyl or benzos compounds are present in the portion of the drugs tested. The strips do not detect other drugs and do not show the amount of fentanyl or benzos present in the substance.
These strips should be viewed as an additional tool to limit potential overdoses, the government said.
“This is an important step to help reduce the risk of overdose throughout Saskatchewan,” said Jason Mercredi, CEO of Prairie Harm Reduction. “Prairie Harm Reduction is pleased to partner with the Government of Saskatchewan in ensuring that this harm reduction tool is widely available to everyone in Saskatchewan, both urban and rural.”
Information on which locations have drug control strips is available at the government website.
Additional information on overdose
Residents are reminded to call 9-1-1 in the event of an overdose. The Ministry of Health asks all those who use illicit drugs not to use alone.
Naloxone kits to reverse opioid overdoses are available throughout the Province.
People cannot be charged with possession of an illegal substance if they ask for help during an overdose under the Good Samaritan Law.
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