BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — One Birmingham bar has taken a distinct approach to discourage people from taking fentanyl-laced drugs, one that’s making waves online.

Mirroring a national trend, Jefferson County has seen a drastic increase in accidental fentanyl overdoses, rounding out to over 400 in 2022 alone. Those at Dave’s Pub, a bar in Birmingham’s Five Points South neighborhood, said they have hit a breaking point when it comes to losing friends and customers to accidental overdoses. So they posted this sign in a restroom.

A sign on the bathroom of Dave’s Pub on Birmingham’s Southside discouraging people from doing cocaine in the bathroom. (Courtesy Dave’s Pub)

“Please! Don’t use cocaine in the bathrooms! But if you’re going to use cocaine… test it with fentanyl test strips. Ask your bartender with no judgment from us,” the sign read.

John Parker, owner of Dave’s Pub, said having that sign made sense to him.

“A lot of people are hesitant to put their address on something to get a test strip for an illicit drug,” Parker said. “It’s such a terrible problem that we wanted to do something that could prevent harm to anybody.”

Parker and his team have seen more than their fair share of tragedy due to the opioid crisis.

”I’ve had, I don’t know, I stopped counting after 15 or so friends died since high school. I’ve had friends who have struggled with substance abuse,” he said. “I think every single person hearing this has been directly impacted by opiates or a loved one has. It’s so widespread.”

Since first being posted last month, the sign has taken off on social media. Even those at the Jefferson County Health Department have noticed.

“You bringing this to our attention has certainly made us have a conversation about creating a sign that can go in restrooms in various types of businesses around our county that would have a QR code that would lead individuals to our website,” medical director Dr. Darlene Traffanstedt said.

Traffanstedt said that while she and her team have asked Parker to tweak the language on the sign a bit, she appreciates his willingness to address a difficult subject like fentanyl.

“I really applaud businesses who have been willing to take a leadership role and put this information out there on our behalf,” she said. 

For Parker, the sign is a small step in having a long-overdue conversation.

“The whole stigma about pushing it away is obviously not working so we wanted to be up front with the reality of what’s going on,” Parker said.