SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio-based nonprofit is among a group of organizations in Texas speaking up to help legalize fentanyl test strips.
In Texas, fentanyl testing strips are considered drug paraphernalia. But House Bill 362 is among several bills looking to change the law and make them accessible to Texans.
The bill was approved in the state House and is on its way to the state Senate.
Madeleine Santibanez and Claudia Delfin with Corazon Ministries’ Harm Reduction Program have spoken before lawmakers in Austin, joining many others in the state to support the legalization of the test strips.
“They’ve been used to help individuals test their substances from heroin to cocaine to help prevent overdose,” Santibanez said.
Many other states already allow the tests’ use. The team helps provide harm reduction kits and programs to help substance abuse users get help.
They said the San Antonio Fire Department data shows the overdose problem is city-wide.
“You can see it’s impacting communities from (Loop) 1604 to (Highway) 281, all the way to the West Side and East Side and South Side of town. It’s impacting communities that are housed and unhoused,” Santibanez said. “No matter the socioeconomic status of a family or community, everyone is being impacted.”
Corazon Ministries’ clients tell them fentanyl-laced drugs are already in our community.
“We’ve talked to clients every day in our drop-in center for our Harm Reduction and the outreach, where they tell us that they know they have the drug because they know the fact that, when they’re using these drugs, they have these different effects that they had before when fentanyl wasn’t in the drug, so they know that their drugs have it,” Delfin said.
Delfin and Santibanez said using fentanyl testing will help people in the community have one more tool to prevent fentanyl-related deaths.
States where the strips are legal provide a detailed description of how to use the strips. A sample of the drug can be dissolved in water to be tested. The strip shows a negative, positive, or invalid result for fentanyl, but it does not say how much fentanyl is in the drugs.