Fentanyl Test Strips Decriminalized In Ohio

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on February 19, 2023

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid that’s caused numerous overdose deaths. It’s often laced in other drugs. In most cases, you can’t identify a fentanyl-laced drug unless you use a fentanyl test strip. Ohio lawmakers recently decriminalized fentanyl test strips to help reduce overdoses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ohio has the country’s fourth-highest drug overdose death rate. Most of those deaths involve fentanyl. 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. It’s often laced in other substances, including powder drugs like cocaine and pills like OxyContin. 

In general, you can’t tell when a drug has been laced with fentanyl. That means anyone who uses street drugs may die of a fentanyl overdose. To reduce these deaths, Ohio recently decriminalized fentanyl test strips. 

Fentanyl Test Strips In Ohio

Fentanyl test strips are small strips of paper that can detect the presence of fentanyl in various substances. They can help people who use street drugs avoid fentanyl and reduce their risk of overdose

Using fentanyl test strips is a form of harm reduction. Harm reduction is a public health approach that seeks to decrease overdoses, disease, and other health risks among people who use drugs. 


Some people criticize fentanyl test strips and other forms of harm reduction, arguing that they encourage drug use. 

However, many individuals are unable to stop using drugs because they live with addiction. Addiction is a serious, chronic disease. While it’s treatable, some people can’t yet access treatment. In these cases, fentanyl test strips can be life-saving.


Ohio law classified fentanyl test strips as “drug paraphernalia” in 2022. People who possess drug paraphernalia may face a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge and up to 30 days in jail. 

However, on January 3rd, 2023, the Ohio House and Senate passed a bill that decriminalizes fentanyl test strips. Set to take effect in April, this law will make it easier for Ohioans to access the strips

How Fentanyl Test Strips Work

To use a fentanyl test strip, you place a small amount of a drug in a container, mix it with water, and place one end of the test strip in the water for about 15 seconds. You then remove the strip from the water, wait 5 minutes, and check the results. 

For most strips, a single line is positive, meaning the drug contains fentanyl and should not be used. Two lines is negative, meaning the drug does not contain fentanyl. 

Some strips may work a little differently. When using a strip, carefully follow all of the directions that come with it. 

How To Find Fentanyl Test Strips In Ohio

Ohioans can find fentanyl test strips at harm reduction programs and some health departments. 

They typically cost about $1, though some locations offer free fentanyl test strips. You can search the internet to find an organization offering the strips in your area. Some organizations will even mail them to you.

Other Ways To Prevent Fentanyl Overdose

Fentanyl test strips are not always accurate. Even if a strip comes back negative, there’s a small chance that the drug still contains fentanyl. That’s why it’s important to use the strips alongside other overdose prevention strategies:

Know The Signs Of Overdose

The sooner you spot an overdose and seek help, the more likely you are to survive it. The most common symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • drowsiness
  • choking or gurgling sounds
  • nausea and vomiting
  • smaller pupils
  • pale, clammy, or bluish skin
  • bluish lips and/or fingernails
  • slowed or stopped breathing
  • slowed or stopped heartbeat
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, call 911 right away.

Get Narcan

Narcan is the brand name for a medication called naloxone. It can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. You can get it at most pharmacies without a prescription. Your pharmacist or doctor can teach you how to use it. 

If you think someone is overdosing on fentanyl or another opioid, administer Narcan right away. 

Don’t Use Drugs Alone

Because a fentanyl overdose causes such intense symptoms, you usually won’t be able to administer Narcan to yourself. That’s why you should only use drugs in the company of people who know how to spot an overdose and how to use Narcan. 

If you use drugs by yourself or with people who don’t know how to respond to an overdose, you face a much higher risk of death.

Seek Addiction Treatment

Ultimately, the only way to avoid a fentanyl overdose is to stop using drugs. If you feel unable to do so, seek help at an addiction treatment program. Available on an inpatient or outpatient basis, these programs offer services such as:

  • medical detox, in which doctors help you manage withdrawal symptoms as you get drugs out of your system
  • mental health counseling, in which a therapist helps you cope with drug cravings and other mental health concerns
  • medication-assisted treatment, in which doctors prescribe medications to ease opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • support groups, in which you can connect with other people recovering from drug addiction

To learn more about addiction treatment, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our compassionate healthcare providers offer a variety of evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one stay drug-free.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Drug Overdose Mortality by State https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Fentanyl Facts https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/index.html
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Fentanyl Test Strips: A Harm Reduction Strategy https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/fentanyl-test-strips.html
  4. Ohio Department of Health — Drug Overdose https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/violence-injury-prevention-program/drug-overdose/

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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