Drug Checking Locations

Drug checking is offered by appointment and by drop-in at some locations. Call ahead to find out more.

What's in
your drugs?

Most overdose deaths occur
while using alone and at home.

Fentanyl Test Strips

How do fentanyl test strips work?

1. Share a Small Sample

The person checking your drugs mixes your sample (the size of a grain of salt) with a cup of water.

2. Dip the Strip

The checker will dip the test strip into the water. The results will appear on the test strip within 1-2 minutes after it is removed.

3. Talk Results

Your results will be discussed with you and we will provide helpful information about how to reduce the risk of overdose.

4. Clean Up and Go

The sample cup are thrown away on-site. Your drugs will be in your possession at all times and the checker will not touch your drugs.

Strips only test for fentanyl within the sample provided. Fentanyl may still be present in the remainder of your drug batch.
Strips may occasionally report a negative result when fentanyl or an analogue is present.

Fentanyl Test Strips FAQs

How long does the drug checking take?
  • Around 5 minutes
What drugs can be checked?
  • The test strips can be used to check any drug for fentanyl.
  • The checker will only require a very small amount of the drug (about the size of a grain of salt) to complete the test. 
How does the checking work?
  • Fentanyl test strips can be used to check a substance for fentanyl before you use or to test a person’s urine within three days after using.

CHECKING DRUGS?

    • The person checking your drugs will ask you to add a very small drug sample (the size of a grain of salt) to a cup of water.
    • The drugs will be in your possession at all times and the checker will not touch your drugs.
    • The checker will insert the test strip into the water. The results will appear on the test strip within 1-2 minutes after it is removed.
    • While you wait for the results, the person checking your drugs will ask you some non-identifying questions about you (age and gender), your drug use, as well as your experience with the testing process. This information will help us evaluate the testing program and keep track of any trends or risks in the drug supply.    
    • Your test results will be discussed with you and we will provide helpful information about how to reduce the risk of overdose.            

 

CHECKING URINE? 

  • You will be asked if you have used any drugs in the past three days. If you answer yes, you will be asked to provide a urine sample.
  • The checker will dip a fentanyl test strip into the sample.
  • The results will appear on the test strip within 1-2 minutes.
  • While you wait for the results, the person checking your drugs will ask you some non-identifying questions about you (age and gender), your drug use, as well as your experience with the testing process. This information will help us evaluate the testing program and monitor any trends or risks in the drug supply.  
  • Your results will be discussed with you and we will provide helpful information about how to reduce the risk of overdose.   
What do the test results mean?
  • A positive result means that fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue (another drug that is like fentanyl)  has been found in the drug sample and could be in other parts of the batch. 
  • The test strips cannot tell you how much fentanyl is in the drug or whether it is positive for fentanyl or one of its analogues.
  • A negative result means that the test strip did not detect fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue within the tested drug sample. 
  • A negative result does not guarantee that the drug is free from fentanyl or any of its analogues –  fentanyl is NOT mixed evenly into street drugs. 
  • A negative test result does not mean that a substance is safe.          
How accurate is drug checking?
  • The results are not always 100% accurate. A negative result does not guarantee that the drug sample is free from fentanyl or any of its analogues.
  • Some fentanyl analogues cannot be detected by the test, and as fentanyl is often mixed unevenly into other drugs, sometimes the sample selected for the test may not have contained fentanyl but the drug is present in other parts of the batch. 
Will my drugs be confiscated (taken away) if they test positive?
  • If your drugs test positive they will not be taken away. 
  • If you wish to get rid of your drugs, you can throw them away at the test site. 
  • If you decide to take your drugs with you, the checker will provide you with information on how to reduce the risk of overdose.
Do I have to give my name or any other identifying information? Is this service confidential?
  • This process is confidential – you will not be asked to provide your name or any other information that identifies who you are – only your gender and your age group.
Will I have to see a counsellor?

Drug checking will be done by a service provider such as a nurse, social worker, outreach worker, or peer. They will ask you some non-identifying questions to help us evaluate the service and monitor the drug supply.  You will not be required to talk to a counsellor about drug treatment services. However, if you want to find out about treatment options staff will be able to provide you with information or make a referral.

Can I take test strips with me to do my own testing or give to others?

Because it is difficult to read the results, staff will not be able to give out fentanyl test strips for use outside of the drug checking site. Your safety is our priority and we want to make sure you understand what the test means and its limitations.

What's in
your drugs?

Every day, about 4 people die
from overdoses in BC.

FTIR Machines

How do FTIR machines work?

1. Share a Small Sample

The person checking your drugs will place a small sample (the size of a grain of salt) onto a sample tray.

2. Scan the drugs

The checker will scan the drug sample using the FTIR machine.

3. Talk Results

Your results will be discussed with you and we will provide helpful information about how to reduce the risk of overdose.

4. Don’t Forget the Test Strips!

The tray is cleaned. Your drug sample sample can be re-used for a fentanyl strip test, given back to you, or thrown away.

FTIR may not be able to detect substances present in small amounts.  While FTIR testing can provide some information about what’s in your drug, it cannot give specific quantities.
Always follow up by checking your drugs with a fentanyl test strip.

FTIR Machines FAQs

What is an FTIR machine?
  • An FTIR machine is a small, portable machine that can detect a large number of substances in a drug by shining an infrared light on the sample and comparing it to a detailed list in its database.
What can be detected by an FTIR machine?

FTIR testing has been successfully used to identify a wide range of substances including cocaine, MDMA, heroin, and a large variety of designer drugs as well as common fillers.

How does the test work?
  • FTIR testing is fast. The full testing process takes around 5-10 minutes.   
  • A very small amount of the substance is required. The sample is placed on a slide under the infrared laser. The laser shines on the substance and records its make-up which is then compared and matched to the substances in the machine’s database.
  • Once the test is complete your sample can be returned to you.
How accurate is FTIR testing?
  • FTIR testing will not be able to detect new or rare substances that are not in the database.
  • FTIR testing cannot detect specific opioids that have a similar chemical make-up – for example FTIR does not often detect fentanyl, carfentanil or some analogues. This is because they are often not present in a high enough quantity for detection.
  • A follow up fentanyl strip test is recommended to check for the presence of fentanyl and/or related analogues.
  • FTIR may not be able to detect substances present in small amounts.
  • FTIR testing can provide some information on how much of a substance has been detected and the presence (or absence) of fillers; however, it cannot give specific quantities.

 

  • Due to the limitations – testing with fentanyl test strips is recommended along with FTIR testing to improve the quality and accuracy of the testing experience.

 

 

Where can I find out more about FTIR testing?
  • Kamloops – Ask Wellness Crossroads 569 Seymour Street • 250-851-0899 ext.155
  • Nelson – ANKORS 101 Baker St • 250-505-5506