This Bay Area Non-Profit is Fighting Against The Fentanyl Crisis

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FentCheck is a Bay Area non-profit fighting against the fentanyl-related overdose crisis. I first saw FentCheck testing strips in the bathroom as well as a mug for donations at the Rockridge Improvement Club. That is where I met Alison Heller, co-founder of FentCheck, and volunteers Katie Cording and Holly Gore.

Heler informed me that, “In 2021, fentanyl became the number one cause of death for Americans ages 18-45.”

Wanting to be of some help, Heler started volunteering in street-based harm reduction efforts, mostly in the tenderloin and West Oakland, and that’s where she was introduced to the Fentanyl Test Strips. These strips use a small sample to determine whether the powerful opioid Fentanyl is present, allowing someone who might engage in drug use to have informed consent before proceeding. Since starting with her friend and mentor, Dean Shold, taping these strips on street lights and, has grown into a network of 60+ bars, restaurants, and small businesses working together to provide these resources anonymously.

Alison Heller, photo credit to Camille Cohen

FentCheck distributed over 50,000 test strips in 2022.

“The data we have from the California Department of Public Health shows that Alameda County (where we have the most easily accessible test strips) has significantly deviated from the California norm.

In California – in 2021 – the age group that had the greatest impact from fentanyl-related overdose deaths was 30-34 year olds. Looking at the data; Alameda County has reduced the fentanyl-related overdose deaths from 20 per 100,000 to 15 per 100,000 while sadly the state of California overall increased from 25 per 100,000 to almost 40 per 100,000.”

This data proves how harm reduction and testing substances prevents accidental overdoses and saves lives.

From left to right: Alison Heller, Katie Cording, Holly Gore

Where can you get test strips from FentCheck?

If you haven’t seen these testing strips around, and wanted them, you can go on their website, and use its interactive map to find the closest place to acquire the strips. FentCheck works with all types of venues, bars, coffee shops, and many other small businesses in San Francisco and the East Bay.

Every business that FentCheck works with that supplies FentCheck Strips also is equipped for emergencies by having NARCAN stocked as well as a fully trained staff that know how to use NARCAN.  If you plan on partying at home, remember to not party alone and to have narcan available. For more tips on safety, FentCheck recommends following the DOPE Project’s Fentanyl Use and Overdose Prevention Tips.  

Alison Heller, photo credit to Camille Cohen

How can you Support FentCheck?


Heler told me, “We also are always looking to expand our team of volunteers, who help us distribute fentanyl test strips to our participating venues. It’s a great way to get to know your community, meet new people, and truly help folks stay safe.”

Fentcheck strives to find the perfect balance for volunteers.  “We are always looking for help of all kinds. Some volunteers work from home and may spend a few hours a week assembling our strips with instructions during long zoom calls, some commit to maybe 15 minutes a week by refilling test strips at a location on their way home from work.” Fentcheck is doing wonderful things and I hope this article inspires others to help Alison, Holly and Katie decrease opioid related deaths in the Bay Area by volunteering as little or much as they can.


The website is filled with lots of information as well as an online store where you can purchase tee-shirts and beanies as well as testing strips. The cost of twenty strips is $50. Their online sales help them but Fentcheck, a 501(c)3 and depends heavily on donations, which can be made through the website There’s also a venmo QR code directly on the website. 

Attend a FentCheck Event:

Fentcheck also does a monthly event every last Friday at Eli’s Mile High Club.  Every first Monday they have an event at The Libertine.  Gilman Brewery will also be donating some of their proceeds at the Cake Hole Drag Show on 3/18 as well as the Yeah, Whatever Stand Up show on 3/31.

Where to find FentCheck online, how to donate, and spread the word.





Note: There are other articles related to fentanyl on Broke-Ass Stuart. One most recently in December with tips on how to party safely and then in November where it is stated Fentanyl has claimed over 500 lives in San Francisco alone.


Nicole is from New Jersey. She’s lived in the East Bay for 10 years and cherishes all that it has to offer as well as what it’s taught her. She loves to travel, learn new trails in the redwoods, and is a live music aPHISHianato.

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