College students can get free naloxone and fentanyl test strips from their schools to prevent drug overdoses

Sat, Oct 28
Key Points
  • College students now have access to free naloxone and fentanyl test strips to combat the opioid crisis.
  • Illicit fentanyl is often added to drugs to make them cheaper, more powerful, and more addictive.
  • Students should be cautious of using drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, as they are likely contaminated with fentanyl.
  • Many colleges are increasing education on the dangers of drug use and providing access to naloxone and test strips.
When it comes to the opioid epidemic, colleges are arming their students with more than just an education.  College students, many of whom were born during the start of the opioid crisis, now have access to free naloxone and test strips. The test strips can detect if drugs — such as opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis — are illegally laced with fentanyl. NARCAN VENDING MACHINES ARE THE LATEST WEAPON AGAINST OPIOID OVERDOSES "As a new college student, and especially as a young woman, it is imperative for me to be hyper-aware of substance use and abuse on my college campus," said a first-year college student in North Carolina to Fox News Digital.  "No student should turn a blind eye to drug use habits among young adults, especially given the uptick in drugs laced with potent opioids like fentanyl," the same student said. Deaths caused by fentanyl overdoses became the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45 years in 2021, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.   "Drug use on campuses nationwide is a concerning and detrimental trend that undermines the educational environment and the well-being of students," said a student in Seattle to Fox News Digital. "It not only poses significant health risks but also hinders academic and personal growth, demanding strict preventive measures and support for those affected." "Most college students who use drugs do not have substance use disorders — rather, they're using drugs recreationally." Illicit fentanyl is added to drugs to make them cheaper, more powerful and more addictive, according to the California Department of Public Health. FENTANYL TEST STRIPS CAN DETECT DEADLY OPIOID HIDDEN IN RECREATIONAL DRUGS A small amount of fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, can cause people to stop breathing. Extremely vulnerable population "Most college students who use drugs do not have substance use disorders — rather, they're using drugs recreationally, in party settings," Dr. Elie G. Aoun, an addiction and forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York City, told Fox News Digital. Their behaviors increase the risk of using drugs laced with fentanyl because many get drugs from second- and third-hand drug dealers, added Aoun, who is also a member of the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees. "But just as their use continues to increase, students need to know that these pressed pills can look so much like prescription pills, and it is impossible sometimes to distinguish them with the naked eye," Dr. Sandra Gomez-Luna, assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut, told Fox News Digital. "The content of fentanyl most likely will vary with some pills carrying more than others," she said. FAMILIES WHO HAVE LOST KIDS TO FENTANYL SHARE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT TODAY'S TEST STRIPS  "We know that only the smallest amount of fentanyl or its derivatives can kill."   Great caution is needed Students should be extremely cautious of also using cocaine and ecstasy, which are used heavily among college students, because these substances are most likely contaminated with a mixture of other drugs, including fentanyl, Aoun warned. "Students and colleges can start making progress together via a joint effort between a student’s individual decisions and formal programs supported by colleges themselves." "While it’s hard for me to imagine a perfect solution to the fentanyl issue, I believe students and colleges can start making progress together via a joint effort between a student’s individual decisions and formal programs supported by colleges themselves," a student told Fox News Digital.  College students may not know the expected effects the drugs they are using — especially about how an opioid overdose presents to medical professionals. "More and more students are choosing not to use alone, but there are still a lot of students who would not disclose what they are using to their friends and families for many reasons," Gomez-Luna told Fox News Digital. "This makes them more vulnerable to overdoses."   The health professional added, "Students can also play a big role in calling 911 or emergency services, even if they are not sure what is happening with the student at the time, as you know the minutes post-overdose are critical for survival and no time should be wasted … 911 calls can be anonymous, hopefully facilitating that students are willing and able to access emergency care when needed." Harm-reduction measures Many colleges are rallying to better educate their students about the dangers of using illegal drugs and to increase access to free fentanyl test strips and naloxone. Narcan, which is the brand name for naloxone, "knocks" opioids off their receptors in the brain, reversing the effects of opioids. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP "Naloxone is a medication, an opioid receptor blocker, approved by the FDA to rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose," Gomez-Luna said. "It comes in several forms. The most commonly used and prescribed, and available now over the counter, is the intranasal naloxone preparation." She recommended that students learn how to obtain and use naloxone kits, especially the intranasal form, because it is easy to learn and administer. Recent legislation now requires all SUNY and CUNY public colleges in the state of New York to offer Narcan in student housing facilities — and most California public colleges offer Narcan to students. The students also can pick up as many boxes of Narcan they want. Fentanyl strips were initially used in medical settings to detect fentanyl in urine samples, the doctor added. "Now they have been used as a way of practicing harm reduction, to detect fentanyl in counterfeit pills and other drugs like heroin and stimulants like cocaine in hopes of preventing overdoses," Gomez-Luna said. Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata, California, allows students to discreetly access kits for free in health vending machines as well as the student health center and through health education programs, the school told Fox News Digital.  CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER "The fentanyl test strips are packaged with all contents to test one’s drugs including a cotton swab, tube with liquid, and analyzer," the school said. The students also can pick up as many boxes of Narcan they want — which has two sprays per box. For more Health articles, visit