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Safe Use Supplies

Harm reduction is a strategy to engaging supporting people who use drugs (PWUD) and providing them with resources and education that can positively impact them and give them insight on when they may need to seek medical attention. Harm reduction can include drug supply testing supplies for fentanyl and xylazine, access to proper wound care materials, and safe syringe access. OPEN has many programs and educational resources that are designed to help communities provide access to harm reduction materials.

Drug Supply Testing

There is an unpredictable drug supply and people often don’t know what is in the drugs that they are using. Fentanyl and xylazine test strips allow for adjustments in drug use to prevent overdose or other harms.


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is up to 50 times stronger than heroin (CDC). Fentanyl is commonly added into other illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to produce a stronger, cheaper, and more addictive product. 

Fentanyl cannot be detected by taste, sight, smell, or touch, so Fentanyl Test Strips (FTS) are a critical tool to prevent fentanyl-related overdoses. FTS are easy to use and cheap to purchase. For more information about how to use fentanyl test strips, view this video and pocket guide.


Xylazine (“tranq”, “tranq dope”) is an animal tranquilizer that is not intended for human use (CDC). Xylazine has been found mixed into the illegal drug supply. 

Side effects from xylazine include:

  • Heavy sedation & loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure & decreased heart rate
  • Wounds that can become infected

Because people who use drugs may not be aware that xylazine is in their drugs, xylazine test strips can provide important information to prevent xylazine-related complications.

Fentanyl Test Strip Pocket Guide

Learn how to use fentanyl test strips to reduce risk of an overdose.

Wound Care

What’s Causing Wounds?

It is not clear why xylazine causes wounds. Wounds can appear anywhere on the body, regardless of the route of use.

How to Care for Wounds

  • Clean your hands whenever you are touching any wound and wear gloves if available
    • Best: washing with soap & water
    • Good: hand sanitizer, body wipes, tap water
  •  Get supplies together in the cleanest area possible
  • Remove old dressing: soaking the old dressing with water can help if it’s stuck and painful
  • Wash with mild soap and rinse with lots of water (sterile/clean water bottle) 
    • If you don’t have soap, mild shampoo works. If not, running water is the next best thing
      • Mix 1-2 teaspoons of antibiotic soap into a water bottle 
      • Poke a hole into the top and pour on the wound.
      • Rinse with clean water
    • Avoid peroxide, alcohol, bleach or other chemicals (dries out the area & prevents healing)
  • First Layer (Nonstick)
    • Put ointment (like antibiotic ointment or Medihoney) or if available (Adaptic or Xeroform-cut to fit size of wound only) on a non adherent dressing/gauze
    • Place this directly on the wound
  •  Second Layer (Absorbent)
    • Apply soft, cushion dressing to protect from injury (ABD pad, dry gauze or menstrual pads)
    • Gravity and drainage don’t mix. Make sure dressing goes BELOW/BEYOND the border or the wound to catch drainage when you stand or walk
  • Secure the dressings
  • Use rolled gauze with tape, ACE, Coban wrapped loosely
  • Covering wounds keeps out bacteria and lets them heal
  • Try and change dressings daily or at least every other day
  • Change dressing if drainage soaks through

Wound care supplies

CleansersTopicalsPeriwound Barriers
-Woven Gauze
-Potable Tap Water
-Normal Saline
-Wound Cleansers
-Quarter strength Dakins Solution
-A&D, Vaseline
-Polyhexamethylene biguanide
-Silver hydrogel
-Silver sulfadiazine
-Zinc Barrier Ointment
-No Sting Skin Prep
Contact DressingsAbsorbent DressingsSupportive Dressings
-Non-Occlusive Oil Emulsion
-Nonadherent Pads
-Occlusive Petrolatum
-Alginate, CMC
-ABD Pad
-Super Absorb Pad
-Rolled Gauze
-Self-Adhesive Wrap
-Elastic Bandage (Ace Wrap)
-Netting, Sleeve

When to seek medical care


Get medical care as soon as possible if you have wounds along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Skin turns dark or black
  • Pieces of skin are falling off
  • Thick smelly yellow or green drainage


Go to the Emergency Room immediately if you have wounds along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fast heart rate
  • Skin is red, hard and hot to touch
  • Severe or worsening pain at wound site
  • Can’t feel or move body part where the wound is located
  • Bone and/or tendons are showing

Safe Syringe Access

Access to clean needles and syringes is important to prevent infections and other complications such as HIV and hepatitis. Syringe Services Programs are community-based programs that provide services such as linkage to substance abuse treatment, vaccination, testing, and education about overdose prevention and safer injection practices while also screening and testing for HIV and hepatitis.