New York State Department of Health Announces Drug Checking Program
ACR Health is proud to be one of the four drug checking programs in New York State.
Programs Located in Central New York, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, and Capital Region
Programs Vital to Protecting People from Fentanyl-Laced Drugs, Understanding Local Drug Supply and Improving Drug User Overall Health
ALBANY, N.Y. (October 23, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health’s Office of Drug User Health (NYSDOH-ODUH) has implemented four drug checking programs operated by state funded Drug User Health Hubs (DUHH). Drug checking is used as a consumer safety tool—either before or after consumption—and a method to engage people who use drugs (PWUD) in other harm reduction services. This information can help inform the larger PWUD community about new or emerging adulterants in the local drug supply and how to decrease their risk of overdose from dangerous substances like fentanyl.
“As new or dangerous substances, including fentanyl, continue to appear in the drug supply, the risk of overdose for people who use drugs continues to rapidly increase,” State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Given this ever-changing landscape, these essential comprehensive drug checking services will help protect New Yorkers and help us to better understand the local drug supply and improve overall drug user health.”
The technology used to test for drugs produces results within minutes and provides the technician the ability to determine the chemical composition of the sample. To ensure that technicians can interpret test results accurately, the NYSDOH-ODUH has contracted with an experienced drug checking consultant who provides training and ongoing technical assistance.
For further support, the drug checking program also includes the use of a confirmatory laboratory that allows DUHH to send residual amounts of inactivated drug samples to the lab and in compliance with Drug Enforcement Administration and postal regulations. Technicians will send the first 150 residual samples to the laboratory for additional testing to confirm the accuracy of initial analysis. The laboratory providing the additional analysis utilizes gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC/MS), which is regarded as a gold standard for drug testing.
Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “The unregulated drug supply is increasingly unpredictable and dangerous. Having comprehensive drug checking available is a strategy to decrease potential harms, including overdoses, and supports our ongoing work to expand and enhance harm reduction services across New York State.”
The drug checking programs are located in Central New York, the Southern Tier, the Mohawk Valley, the Capital Region and Long Island. The program involves staffing and training at each participating DUHH. Governor Kathy Hochul specifically mentioned in her 2023 State of the State Address the expansion of drug checking technology within DUHHs to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of substances before and after use. This enhanced technology will be available at Drug User Health Hubs so that individuals can test their drugs to mitigate drug-related harms and prevent overdose.