CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. - You don't have to go far to see signs of the opioid epidemic. Now, Camden County is taking a new approach in preventing drug-related deaths. They want users to test drugs for fentanyl before they get high.
Just off Broadway in Camden, it doesn’t take long to find a needle or see evidence of the drug problem.
"Just yesterday, I was in the store and a guy passed out and I thought he had died. I thought he had died,' Monique Johnson said.
There were more than 300 opioid-related deaths in 2019, according to Camden County. The data does not include the month of December. Now, the county is trying a new course of action. Fentanyl test strips to make sure that the drug about to be ingested isn’t laced with anything.
"We may not necessarily be able to change the numbers of people overdosing right away, but we wanna change the number of people who are losing their lives," John Pellicane, director of the Office of Mental Health and Addiction Awareness Task Force, said.
The strip only takes about 15 seconds to work once a drop of the substance is tested and there will be sites around the county handing them out as well as people on the street. They cost about 60 cents each.
"This is a very limited cost to try to tell someone please be careful of what you use and try and stay alive for tomorrow," Pellicane said.
The kit will come in a bag with information on how to get help and the dangers of fentanyl.
"We all have the same goal is to see no overdoses. No more overdoses, no more heroin, no more fentanyl, maybe more productive lives, happier people," Pellicane said.
Distribution sites for the kits have yet to be determined. The number of kits to be distributed is expected to fall between 500 and 1,000 in total.
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