WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — The fentanyl crisis has skyrocketed, now acting as a leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 percent of opioid overdose deaths are related to the powerful synthetic drug.
As the nation grapples with a deadly overdose crisis, Narcan has been gaining a lot of attention, acting as a lifesaver after ingesting a drug.
Now another preventative is making headlines and this one could stop an overdose before you take it.
Right now, fentanyl testing strips are considered drug paraphernalia in Florida, but new legislation is aiming to change that.
Mother and leader of Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates Maureen Kielian told CBS12 she's frustrated watching the battle continue over fentanyl testing strips.
“You lost that war on drugs already. You lost it ok. So now you’re choosing whether they can live or die. And honestly, as a mother, you have no right to decide that for anyone’s loved one,” Kielian said.
Kielian's son is currently in recovery after almost dying of a drug overdose.
"We need to do anything, anything to save a life at this point because this is harm reduction," Kielian said.
Fentanyl testing strips are considered illegal in the state, with the idea that if you're testing something, you must have something illegal to test.
“You’re giving people this lifesaving tool but you’re essentially promoting, encouraging, condoning drug use,” Austin Wright, Rebel Recovery's Resilience Against Drug Deaths (RAD) program director, said. "At its surface, I can see how you can come to that conclusion, but people use drugs.”
It's an idea that hadn’t budged until in more recent weeks when the House and Senate approved a bill that changes the definition of drug paraphernalia to exclude fentanyl testing products.
Wright said it would help those who aren’t necessarily addicts, but use them more recreationally.
"There’s a lot of just everyday people that care about their careers and their families and use drugs occasionally,” Wright said.
Wright told CBS12 that's also the group with the highest risk of overdosing.
"Because they don’t have a tolerance, the amount of fentanyl that would be like a little effect on somebody who uses fentanyl every day might kill them. Having the ability to test it, they can make more informed decision," Wright said.
These testing strips are currently available in at least 35 states. If Governor DeSantis signs the bill to decriminalize them, that’ll be one more state on the list.