By Hannah Bullard
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Tuesday marked the first ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day. This day serves as a time of remembrance of those lost to fentanyl and to raise awareness of resources. Resources like Narcan and the newly decriminalized fentanyl test strips. Tennessee joined Alabama in a decision make the testing strips legal.
Debra Clark is an overdose specialist with the Hamilton County Coalition, she said although fentanyl test strips can be abused, they’re needed for preventing overdose deaths.
“People were testing to see if fentanyl was in there, because they were wanting the fentanyl. So, they were meant to help avoid fentanyl, that was the whole point of them. And, as long as they’re used correctly for that way ,in that way, they can save lives.
Clark said it’s important for people to understand that no one is immune to the impacts of fentanyl in our community and that addiction is a disease that requires patience and understanding.
“There’s a lot of stigma that goes with substance use disorder. So, a lot of people that have it, they won’t come forward, because they’re worried about what people will say and what their family thinks. So a lot of times it can keep them from asking for help,” Clark said. “So just know in the signs of drug use, like looking for the small pupils, the behavior change, things like that. Those are signs that can start a conversation, but you have to not be judgmental about it”
For more information, go online to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or visit the Hamilton County Coalition.