March 13, 2018 – Opioids and Death


Anchor lead: Can a test strip for fentanyl help reduce the number of opioid deaths? Elizabeth Tracey reports

What does it feel like to be an opiate addict? Most of us can only imagine why those who use these drugs risk their very lives to do so. Susan Sherman, a professor of public health at Johns Hopkins and one author of a recent study advocating for use of test strips for users to test their drugs for fentanyl, describes what people tell her about the experience.

Sherman: Most people are not getting high they’re getting well and that’s the language that’s used. That when people feel dope sick, so when they’re withdrawing they’re sweating, they’re throwing up, they’re feeling horrible, their body is limp. It’s like the flu on steroids. People don’t want to die. So these strips or the machines really help. We found that 42% of people in our study has witnessed a fatal overdose in their lifetime. There’s so much trauma. That people have seen someone die. People don’t want that to be their reality even if they are people who are using drugs.  :31

Sherman believes testing street drugs for fentanyl, which is much more powerful than heroin, can help preserve life so people can seek treatment. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.