Barren River District Health Department offering fentanyl test strips

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The number of overdose deaths in Kentucky has decreased for the first time in four years, but the opioid epidemic is far from over.

Gov. Andy Beshear says Kentucky is one of only eight states to see a significant decrease in fentanyl deaths and credits access to better treatment and a recent change in legislation.

During Thursday’s Team Kentucky update, Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said, “The governor had a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 353, which removes fentanyl test strips from the definition of drug paraphernalia, and we’re hopeful that will save some lives.”

The decriminalized fentanyl test strips allow Kentuckians to test illegal drugs before using to make sure the drugs don’t contain fentanyl.

Drugs made to look like Percocet, Xanax and Adderall and sold illegally may actually contain fentanyl as the active ingredient.

In an effort to stop fatal overdoses, the Barren River District Health Department offers residents access to Narcan and fentanyl test strips through its syringe services program.

“Fentanyl is showing up in the drug supply immensely, so we want anyone to be able to respond to an opioid overdose, and we want to provide the tools to the community,” says Ashley Lillard of the Barren River District Health Department.

Lillard says that even those who think they do not have a need for these products are encouraged to have access to them as well.

Lillard continued, saying, “What we’re seeing too is not just our clients who use drugs coming in to get Narcan. We’re seeing community centers, we’re seeing churches, we’re seeing lots of just community groups wanting to have Narcan on hand too, so they can possibly save a life as well.”

The Barren River District Health Department will offer Narcan and fentanyl test strips in all eight counties they serve starting July 1.