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The Center tests for fentanyl; offers medically assisted treatment
Jill Hulse and Scot Yarnell display new testing equipment that is used to detect fentanyl at The Center for Counseling & Consultation.

The Center for Counseling & Consultation, 5815 Broadway, now has the ability to detect fentanyl through a simple urine test.

“We couldn’t test for this dangerous drug in the past,” said Julie Kramp, The Center’s executive director. “We didn’t know it was necessary. Now we know that it is.”

The need is here because of the drastic increase in the unanticipated presence of fentanyl in other illicit drugs.

“The user is unaware of this contamination,” Kramp noted. “Now we can test for fentanyl right here and have results in a few minutes.”

Jill Hulse and Scot Yarnell, nurse practitioners at The Center, are relieved to know they have this testing resource available to help patients by offering them medically assisted treatment.

“Fentanyl doesn’t show up on a normal, 12-panel drug screen,” Hulse said. “The fentanyl test benefits patients because it guides us to offer the appropriate medical treatment.”

Hulse offered information about fentanyl that explains its potency.

• It is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

• It takes only two milligrams of fentanyl to kill, regardless of its route into the body.

• To illustrate the tiny amount needed to result in death, a sweetener packet at a restaurant contains 1,000 milligrams.

“The drastic increase in substances laced with fentanyl can been seen in methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and other so-called recreational drugs,” Hulse said. “This nationwide increase has occurred mainly in the last 5-10 years.”

Yarnell, the other nurse practitioner, noted that “this is the easiest way to keep your clients addicted if you are a drug dealer.”

The Center offers several forms of medical treatment in these cases. They are Suboxone, Vivitrol and medications for detoxification.

In most cases the first treatment is Suboxone, “which replaces the opiate safely,” Yarnell said. “Suboxone is readily available locally, which means you don’t have to travel to Wichita to get it. Vivitrol may be used when our patient has been opiate-free for 10 days. 

“We treat withdrawal symptoms too when necessary,” he continued. “We help you prepare to go through it at home in a safe and effective manner; we want you to succeed. In addition to medication management, we refer patients to therapists for substance-use and mental-health.”

In some cases, patients are referred to inpatient treatment centers.

During a course of treatment, follow-up appointments and frequent screenings are involved. “These tests are not punitive. We just want what is best for our patients,” Yarnell commented.

He also noted that carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer, is showing up in recreational drugs too. It is 100 times more potent than the regular fentanyl.

Other statistics include: Kansas saw the nation’s second highest increase in drug deaths last year; nationally, there were 107,622 drug-overdose deaths last year, an increase of nearly 15 percent that follows a 30 percent jump in 2020; and more than 150 people die each day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids.

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain in circumstances involving conditions such as post-surgery and advanced-stage cancer.

The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.