Chico State vs. fentanyl

WellCat Prevention talks overdose prevention services. Video demonstration at the bottom of article.


Kait Utnehemer dips a fentanyl test strip into a small cup of water with ibuprofen in it. Screenshot of video demonstration taken Feb. 28 by Molly Myers.

Chico State is providing students free naloxone and fentanyl test strips to help combat the opioid crisis within the campus community. 

Naloxone is a nasal injection that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Fentanyl test strips are used to test drugs to see if they are laced with fentanyl. 

These overdose prevention services are available at the WellCat Prevention office, the University Housing Office and WellCat Health Center. Students can walk into any of these places and ask for the test strips or naloxone, without providing their name or identification.

Former senior Wellcat Prevention Coordinator, Kait Utnehemer, and current Senior Prevention Coordinator, Kelsey Simpson, said that students are appreciative of the service. 

“We know that students on campus use drugs and we know that drugs can be contaminated,” Utnehmer said. 

Students can get each item individually, or together in a prevention kit. Since the start of the semester, students have picked up over 200 prevention kits.

WellCat Prevention’s website states:

“A negative test does not guarantee that your drugs are ‘safe.’ Carrying Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug, is always recommended for anybody who uses drugs or is around people who use drugs.” It is recommended to have at least one Narcan kit within a household, especially if you have roommates. 

WellCat Prevention started giving out test strips in October 2022, and Naloxone over winter break. 

They are advertising this service on social media and through tabling. 

WellCat Health Center gets the fentanyl test strips from Butte County Public Health. WellCat health center aquired the naloxone through a grant. This makes these services free, not only to students, but also to the school. 

WellCat Prevention also provides demonstrations and videos, like the one at the bottom of this article, so students are more prepared when the time comes. However, the program is seen as a safety measure and not something that will fully stop overdose.

Utnehmer said that the instructions for both items are easy to read and very accessible, so in-depth training isn’t required. However, Utnehemer recommends students read and familiarize themselves with the naloxone instructions before they encounter a crisis where they need to use it. 

“That’s not really a time for learning,” Utnehemer said. 

Both Utnehmer and Simpson said that students are sometimes awkward or shy about collecting the prevention kits. Some students say earnestly that it isn’t for them, or that it is for a friend. 

Simpson said that making sure students feel comfortable is a big part of what they do.

“Our bottom line is like, we don’t want anyone to die,”  Utnehmer said.

Molly Myers and Abbigail Kovac can be reached at [email protected]