About This Project
The prevalence of opioid use in New York City has been documented. I aim to explore the prevalence of fentanyl in NYC heroin using rapid test-strips. Prevalence will also be described among distinct brands in New York City black-markets.
Fentanyl presence will be explored in already used and empty heroin bags. Residual amounts will be tested, which may not be visibly present to the naked eye. The study will impact health policy and help inform interventions for fentanyl overdose.
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What is the context of this research?
Overdose deaths involving synthetic (man-made) opioids like fentanyl (which is 80-100 times stronger than morphine) increased almost 47% from 2016 to 2017 in the United States. A 55% drug overdose increase in New York City was observed from 2015-2017, and in 2017, 57% of overdose deaths involved fentanyl.
Using test-strips for identifying contamination is an effective intervention in combating overdose, especially among young adults.
Heroin is distinctly branded (using rubber stamps, for example) prior to distribution. To the best of my knowledge, the prevalence of fentanyl among various brands available, and the prevalence of fentanyl in the street-market more generally has yet to be examined. This is a novel project.
There is no human subject involvement.
What is the significance of this project?
Drug users have been found to actively seek higher potency heroin despite being advised about the presence of fentanyl, and being educated about overdose risk. Similarly, an increase in illicit use of fentanyl has been reported.
Exploring the prevalence of fentanyl can provide insight into whether fentanyl may be poised to replace heroin in New York City markets. Describing the prevalence of fentanyl by brand in New York City may raise awareness concerning contamination, and assumed lethality. Naloxone, the overdose antidote, is an effective intervention to combat overdose, but may be rendered useless due to the rapid onset of fentanyl.
Implications for health policy concerning overdose will be explored.
What are the goals of the project?
I will explore the likliehood of fentanyl contamination in heroin avaialble for sale in New York City, and the prevalence of fentanyl contamination among distinct brands on the heroin black-markets.
To do this, I will collect used heroin bags in New York City and test residue for fentanyl contamination using test-strips.
Collection will be completed by 3 assistants who currently engage in syringe clean-up in areas where drug use is prevalent. The test strips use immunoassay technology to quickly and reliably detect the presence of fentanyl and its analogs.
Data will be recorded by the number of used and empty heroin bags tested, the distinct brand tested, and whether it is contaminated or not.
The absolute bare minimum is being requested for executing this project:
1) Fentanyl test-strips are necessary to test the used heroin bags.
2) Three assistants to help in collecting samples.
3) Traveling budget for assistants and myself, for traveling through the City when collecting samples.
4) Rubber gloves and ziploc bags, for collecting, storing and testing samples.
Crowdfunding will be completed by October 31st, 2019.
Collection of samples will be completed by November 30th, 2019.
Samples will be tested for fentanyl by December 31st, 2019.
Data sets will be prepared, with quality checks completed by January 15th, 2019.
Data analysis will be executed by January 31st, 2019.
Results and findings will be reported by February 21st, 2019.
Sep 24, 2019
Oct 31, 2019
Complete collecting samples
Oct 31, 2019
Reach crowdfunding goal
Nov 30, 2019
Complete testing collected samples
Dec 15, 2019
Complete data set preparation
Meet the Team
I have experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors, in organizational management, research, policy, and clinical counseling. I hold the Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University in Newark New Jersey, and the Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University in the City of New York. I also specialize in Alcohol and Drug Counseling.
My professional experience includes working in harm-reduction settings, and with individuals engaged in substance use, the criminal justice system, and those with mental health needs.
I have engaged in previous research concerning the opioid epidemic, and it is my goal to contribute to science aimed at overcoming this problem.
In previous research conducted at the Social Intervention Group at Columbia University, I am the lead author on a study that examines social determinants of having access to overdose reversal drug naloxone in New York City.
My abstract was selected for oral presentation at the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia in November 2019. I wish to build on previous work through this project, and contribute to the fight against the opioid epidemic.
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