To Combat Overdose Deaths, a Local Non-Profit Now Offers a Test for Drug Purity

Stacy Cobine have hachr. She does distribution to people living on the street and in shooting galleries. fentanyl testing

Stacy Cobine of HACHR holding Fentanyl testing strips. [Photo from HACHR’s Facebook page]

With overdose death rates in Humboldt County among the highest in the nation, a local non-profit received a grant that allows them to offer a simple test for fentanyl.  Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid responsible for the multiple deaths in 2016 alone, is most famously known for causing the death of the singer, Prince.

Prince reportedly didn’t even know that he was taking the opioid. Accidental overdoses are becoming more common as it is cheap to produce and is often substituted without the user’s knowledge for more expensive and less potent drugs like heroin.

The drug which can be absorbed through the skin can be fatal even in relatively small doses.  One police officer almost died after merely brushing fentanyl residue from his clothing with his bare hands.

Brandie Wilson, Executive Director for HACHR, the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, explained that the California State Office of Aids which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services provided the grant that enabled the local non-profit to buy the fentanyl testing strips.

“Currently we are the only ones in Humboldt County who has them,” she said. “We are putting the kits together today. [To get them,] you can call us or stop by.” Besides the strips, the kit contains instructions, resource information, and an explanation of the purpose, she said.

Wilson explained that to test a substance for fentanyl, a little bit is mixed with sterile water and dripped on the strip.  If one line appears, this shows that fentanyl is present. When two lines appear that means none is present.

Wilson says she hopes the strips which are available starting today “reduce our absurdly high rates of drug overdoses.”

HACHR also carries supplies of Narcan (naloxone) that are available to those that need it. “[Naloxone] is an opiate antagonist,” Wilson explained. “In the event of an opiate overdose, it will reverse the effects for 30 to 90 minutes…This allows time to get the victim help…. It’s a lifesaver.”

She added that just in 2016 alone in our area, “We have 112 people alive because of it.”

Those seeking access to either the testing strips or to naloxone can either drop by HACHR’s office at 924 5th Street in Eureka and or call (707) 407-6013.




  • They gave me an injection of Fentanyl at the E/R yesterday I don’t see why all the hype. I didn’t find it to be a very effective pain killer.

    But I guess an addict has different criteria and uses an increased dosage. Hope this testing can help with saving their lives.

    • What the heck happened? Must have been pretty serious. Or do they just shoot you up with that shit for fun?

      • It was no fun. They needed to work on my eye, and it was very painful. They also gave me a double injection (one in each arm) of another pain killer (Toradol I think). Then they followed up with the Fentanyl. It still hurt a lot though. And I still can’t see out of my right eye. But the pain is somewhat better.

    • Taurus Ballzhoff

      The problem here is that cowboy chemists have learned to make analogs and isomers of Fentanyl that have the appearance of smack and many times greater potency than street heroin (which is usually quite weak, apparently). This leads to overdoses and death in those persons unwise enough to inject unknown drugs of random potency, which is just never a good idea.

      Let us remember, hard drug abuse is not about just wanting to get high, it’s really about a state of mind that accepts death as a possible side effect. Persons who inject drugs are lost in a paradigm of self abuse for whatever reason, and have little control over the outcome. The idea that they would carefully test their drugs is interesting…

      If this is of concern to you, there are several county agencies that will train you to administer Narcan to overdosed individuals. I carry mine, but I struggle with the idea that folks may seek death, and that I may be interrupting their process of obtaining death.

      Drug overdoses meanwhile, are a critical consumer of thinly stretched medical providers, professional law enforcement and first responders. Education may help some folks live on, but we need to realize that pure drugs and safe conditions to use them in are the only real answer to designer narcotics.

      If a person does not want to recover, they never will. Junkies are sad, but they are still your neighbors. Pure drugs freely available would be a much cheaper approach, at much lower social cost.

      • Thinking allowed

        But what about the collateral damage? It’s like the trite phrase that people offer about drug use only hurting themselves so they should be free to take what they want. Reality is that druggies do not stay on their little islands where the only person they harm is themselves.

        • Lefthanded Lunatics

          My feelings are if they want to kill themselves then they probably will. This will damage others but the reasons for all this we can only guess… we can’t control much, but limiting social damage is something we could try.

  • Welcome to Junkyland

  • Lake County Not So Bad

    Yours, and my, tax dollars at work. Thank you California.

    • Whoops, Lake County is full of drug wrecks too! Maybe more than Humganistan. My question is: How long until broke Humganistan pot farmers start growing poppy?

  • Better clean up your tar mexico. Humboldt only wants the best.

  • good works by HACHR, thank you for it.

  • Here’s a better test, if you need this test, FAIL! GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! You are a junky piece of shit.

    • Bet they have never heard that before.

    • Do you love anyone that uses? I do. Some users eventually are able to stop. Even people that use often have productive lives. Prince, for instance. Ideally, drug addicts are “able to [eventually get their] shit together” but until they do, family members and friends would like them to keep living.

      • I do, my oldest daughter, she’s been clean 5 years. She and her boyfriend moved where she didn’t know anyone and just quit…now she has a valid drivers license and a job. She’s come a long way, almost took her down. I’m very proud, but tough love played a role. As a parent it’s terrifying afraid the phone will ring or police show up at the door with bad news.

        • Congrats to your daughter! I have 19 yrs clean from Meth & Coke. Lost my first husband to a drug overdose in ’93. It was a hard struggle to get clean and to remain clean in this area. I had to disassociate myself with almost everyone I knew before I could start the process of getting clean. Then I went to CR and got an education and have been doing well ever since.

      • Veterans friend

        Thanks Kym for reminding folks that these people ARE people, they are our brothers & sisters, our parents & children, that they deserve our compassion & where possible, our help.

      • As much damage as my family member has done…ive seen them clean, I’ve seen them using, I battle with myself watching them walk around downtown. I drive by to make sure they’re still alive. Haven’t talked to them in a long time though. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know people who have died from their heroin being cut with fentanyl and unintentionally overdosing. Jail the users to help them get clean (although maybe not in this beautiful county jail), but prosecute dealers to the fullest. Their greed is literally killing people.

      • Yes I do my cousin, he is a pice of shit, stole everything he could get his hands on before finally being told to stay away, still try’s to befriend people by saying he is related to us and then steals from them. We gave him dozens of chances and tried to do all we could to help but he just laughs in our faces. He really screwed our family up. Now I have no patience for this shit. Kudos to those who can get clean but screw the ones who don’t care. Anyways that’s my 2cents

      • Yes, and the situation keeps getting worse as the demand for heroin goes up. We’ll see it worsen before it gets better as DEA production quotas for pharmaceutical opioids have been rolled back up to 25%. There are safer analgesics in the pipeline, as well as other alternatives for chronic pain. But in many areas people are treated with opioids and then simply terminated after some time. Many of them self medicate with street drugs.
        This is a national problem and while test kits for fentanyl have been around for awhile, I’m glad to see someone locally picking up the ball so to speak – thank you.
        Here’s an example:

    • Great insight you have. Junkies kill pain. You judge a man because he lives with pain. [edit]…But theres hope.. Always hope…


    does this mean that if you are buying street drugs is there a test for purity?

    • Not a quantitative one – various agencies look askance at that (they call it “quality control for illicit substances” ;*p)
      There are many organizations (eg DanceSafe) that offer test kits so people can distinguish dangerous research chemicals from the more well known ones, e.g. MDMA.
      You can have quantitative analysis done, but it’s pretty expensive/
      Lots of places sell these kits – this is just an example:

  • Condoms, clean syringes, now a way to test your fix for a lethal drug, are we helping or enabling

    • Both, but which is the greater evil? Everyone should be given the chance to change their lives. All we can do is help them stay alive long enough to do so.

  • Honeydew Bridge C.H.U.M.P.

    Why not just stake out the building and arrest them when they come outside?

    Seriously, just arrest everyone in the building or that even goes near it.

    Build a large fenced area, put an ad on Craigslist advertising free drugs and high paying jobs as a left wing liberal. Once they are inside lock the friggin gate, and keep them in there for 5-10 years.

    I don’t really see what the problem is because it’s such an easy thing to do.

    Get to work cops!

    Arrest every single junkie and lib, put them in a fenced in area, don’t let them out.

    Fences and razor wire were created for this, use them properly.

  • They are for “harm reduction”, yet they appear to oppose the vapor products that omit the tars, toxins, smoke, chlorine, glue, ammonia, pesticides?, from real tobacco.
    I can’t get on board.
    Why? Because vapor was created by mom and pop. So was tobacco.
    This product, in this study, was created by the same industry who is taking down mom & pop businesses all across the globe.
    But, with that said, at least there’s something out there that is advertised to help.
    My question is: What mom and pop products were banned from advertising due to lack of the big industry’s approval?

  • Like a junky is going to waste any drugs on testing.

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