Xylazine, a veterinarian sedative used to sedate animals undergoing medical procedures, has been found in illicit opioids across the country.
Xylazine, commonly referred to as Tranq, is not approved by the FDA for human use. It has been shown to cause heart and blood pressure problems in people as well as causing skin legions and sores in some cases.
Dr. Brian Hurley with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health joined “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen to breakdown Tranq and what people need to know about its rise in use.
Hurley says as of now drugs containing Tranq have mostly been found on the East Coast, however, there have been a few cases of it popping up throughout California.
“One of the reasons [Xylazine] gets added to drugs is because of the perception it can boost the intoxicating effects,” Hurley said. “The consequence of boosting the intoxicating effects of opioid drugs is that it also boosts the risk of overdose.”
Narcan or naloxone, the live-saving medicine that reverses the effects of a drug overdose, has been effective in treating the opioid portion of the drugs containing Xylazine. However, Narcan won’t affect the health problems brought on by Xylazine.
“The kinds of overdoses we might see associated with Xylazine are overdoses where people aren’t responding to naloxone or they’re not responding fully to naloxone,” “Hurley said. “So the safest thing is to not use drugs, but if people are going to use, don’t use alone,”
Hurley advises the best way to help people get through an overdose is to see immediate medical attention. By doing so, medical attention would be able to get people through a Xylazine overdose.
Hurley says the LADPH is working alongside UCLA to develop spectrometer testing centers for people to go to test for Xylazine in drugs.
“So people that are really worried about the composition of the drug that they are using, they can take those drugs to locations for spectrometer testing,” Hurley said.
Xylazine is relatively new in drugs, so it’s difficult for health officials to understand how widespread the problem might become. Hurley encourages families to have open discussions about drug use and the potential dangers with their kids.
“It’s tempting to take a punitive approach, to say that there’s no tolerance for drug use, but actually that can sometimes be counterproductive because the people who are at risk of using drugs might not feel safe to disclose,” Hurley said.
Read more about Xylazine on the LADPH’s website.
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