Drug Checking Locations

Going to a music festival this summer? X +

Visiting a music festival this summer?

Check your drugs at our Mobile Testing Unit.

Our Mobile Testing Unit will be on location at the following festival(s).

Bass Coast

Merritt, BC July 12th to 15th


Drug checking hours:
Possible change in regular service for the following locations during the festival: Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton.

Type of tests:
FTIR and Test Strips

Shambhala Music Festival

Salmo, BC July 24th to 29th


Drug checking hours:
Possible change in regular service for the following locations during the festival: Kelowna, Penticton, Cranbrook, Nelson.

Type of tests:
FTIR and Test Strips

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

Fentanyl Test Strips

Fentanyl test strips are easy to use -you can get the test done at one of our testing locations and/or get trained to do the test yourself and take some strips with you. If you decide to get the test done at one of our testing locations your drugs will bein your possession at all times.

How the test is done:

1. Mix sample with water

A small sample of your substance (size of a grain of salt) is mixed with 30 mL (1 oz) of water (the same size as a shot glass).

2. Dip the Strip

Test strip is dipped into the water for 15 seconds. The results will appear on the test strip within 1-2 mins after it is removed. Result should be read as soon as they appear.

3. Talk Results

Learn what test results mean and the limitations. Consider reducing your risk by following some harm reduction tips such as using a smaller amount, carrying naloxone, not using alone, or disposing of the substance.

4. Clean Up

The water used for testing is thrown away.

Doing the test yourself? Download detailed instructions here.

Watch a video on how to use the strips.

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 drug checking with a fentanyl testing strip take?
  • Under 5 minutes.
What drugs can be checked?
  • The test strips can be used to check any drug for fentanyl.
  • Only a very small amount of the drug (about the size of a grain of salt) is required to complete the test. 
How does it 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. You can have your drugs checked at one of our drug checking locations or get trained and then take the strips home to use yourself.

Going to a drug checking location:
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.
Take Home Drug Checking
After getting trained at one of our drug checking locations, you can also take the test strips with you to use at home. It is very important to follow the instructions that you will receive with your test strips.
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 are testing strips?
  • 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. 
If I get my drugs checked at a drug checking location, 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.
If I go to a drug checking location, 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.

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.

FTIR Drug Checking FAQ

What is an FTIR spectrometer?

An FTIR spectrometer is an instrument that can detect a large number of substances in a drug by shining an infrared light on the sample and comparing it to a reference list in its database.

What can be detected by FTIR?

FTIR testing has been successfully used to identify a wide range of substances including cocaine, MDMA, fentanyl, ketamine and a large variety of designer drugs as well as common fillers. Our database contains over 10 000 possible substances.

How does the test work?
  • FTIR testing is fast. The process takes around 5-10 minutes.   
  • A very small amount of the substance is required. The sample is placed on a crystal 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 drug checking will not be able to detect new or rare substances that are not in the database.
  • FTIR drug checking cannot always tell the difference between substances that have a very similar chemical make-up. For example, analogues of fentanyl.
  • Substances present in small amounts may be missed by the FTIR. For example, carfentanil is rarely detected with the FTIR.
  • FTIR drug checking 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 usually used along with the FTIR instrument to improve the accuracy of the results.

 

 

Where can I find out more about FTIR drug checking?

Check out the drug checking map to find out the nearest FTIR drug checking site.