Our partners use two different drug checking technologies to test the components in your drug samples: Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers and test strips. Check out our Drug Checking Sites page for details.
Fourier-transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy
FTIR spectrometers are a well-known technique for chemical analysis and are commonly used in forensic chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry. These spectrometers can determine up to 6 components in your sample, including cuts or buffs that have been added to your drugs. The detection limit of the FTIR is about 5%, which means that substances that are in very small amounts may not be detected. For this reason, we pair the FTIR analysis with fentanyl and benzodiazepine test strips which are more sensitive to the target compound. FTIR spectroscopy works by shining infrared light at a sample and measuring how that light is absorbed. Drugs and cutting agents have unique absorption patterns that are then identifiable by a trained technician. It is important to remember that there are drugs that can be toxic well below the 5% detection limit.
Fentanyl Test Strips
Fentanyl immunoassay strips (test strips) are used to determine the presence of fentanyl in a drug sample. The fentanyl test strips are very sensitive to fentanyl and some additional fentanyl analogues. However, test strips cannot tell you how much fentanyl is in your drugs and may not be able to detect all fentanyl analogues.
Benzodiazepine Test Strips
Benzodiazepine (benzo) test strips are used to determine the presence of benzodiazepines in a drug sample. The benzodiazepine test strips are sensitive to a number of analogues, but not all. Like the fentanyl test strips, these test strips cannot tell you the quantity of benzodiazepines in a sample. Benzodiazepines can contribute to or complicate opioid overdoses even when present in small amounts.
Fentanyl test strips are offered without FTIR services at many locations across the different health authorities. Please check your local health authority website for locations that offer fentanyl test strip services or take-home strips.
For more information about why we use these technologies, refer to our Drug Checking Evidence Report.
For more detailed technical information, refer to the Reports page.