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Posted on April 9th, 2018

Drug field tests being abandoned due to opioid dangers

Drug field tests being abandoned due to opioid dangers

Fearing that officers may get exposed to deadly opioids like fentanyl, law enforcement agencies in several states have largely abandoned the field tests of drugs recovered during traffic stops or arrests. Agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), have decided to send suspected drugs to crime laboratories for tests.  

The routine tests that have been in use for decades are usually conducted by police officers at the scene of confiscation to identify whether the seized substance is cocaine, heroin, or any other narcotic. The results of these chemical tests are usually used as a ground to send the suspect to jail and file criminal charges. However, the dangers of opioids, especially fentanyl, have forced authorities to go for laboratory tests.

Notably, raw fentanyl powder is 50 times more potent than heroin and can be used with other street drugs too. Even in small quantity, the drug can produce fatal results when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Media reports suggest that in the past some police officers have fallen ill after getting exposed to fentanyl, which is used for cancer patients to help them deal with severe pain.

The field testing of drugs has been banned by the DEA, state police in Arizona, Oregon, Michigan, Missouri, and a number of big cities like Houston and New York. Besides, in early 2017, Indiana police said that authorities should avoid field testing “unless the circumstances make it absolutely necessary.” For immediate results, the DEA has decided to send the suspected substances to local labs that can conduct “presumptive tests” in controlled environments. Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started making the use of a hand-held device that permits authorities to detect chemical compounds in the drug without being exposed to the dangerous substance.

Road to recovery

The U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin, was five times higher than in 1999. On average, 115 people succumb to an opioid overdose every day in the U.S. So, it is important to make the best forms of treatment available to those addicted to any drug.

Treatment for any addiction can be done using either an inpatient or outpatient program. While the inpatient program would require a patient to stay at the rehab facility until the completion of the recovery process, an outpatient program is more flexible as the individual does not necessarily need to stay at the hospital. However, the first step to begin the addiction treatment process is sending the patient for a detoxification. Undergoing a detox process is important as it flushes out the body of all the unwanted substances. Once this process is completed, he/she can follow the complete treatment program that may include medications, therapies, exercising, etc.

Above all, preventing an individual’s access to drugs is important not only for his/her recovery but also to avoid relapse. The access should also be limited to prescription drugs as these too have a high potential of leading one to addiction. If there’s someone you know who is addicted to any drug and is looking for one of the best detox treatment centers in Arizona, the Arizona Detox Helpline can help. Call at our 24/7 drug detox helpline number (866) 593-8453 or chat online with one of our experts who can assist you in getting connected with the finest detox centers in Arizona.