A new street drug is surfacing that threatens to exacerbate California’s overdose crisis

Deb Walker of Chester, Vermont, visits the grave of his daughter Brooke Goodwin.

Deb Walker of Chester, Vermont lost his daughter Brooke Goodwin, 23, to a xylazine overdose in 2021. (Lisa Ratke/Associated Press)

A new drug, a sedative commonly used in animals, is increasingly making its way into the illegal drug trade in California, and local officials say its arrival could exacerbate an already alarming overdose crisis. I am concerned that there is

A trace of xylazine, commonly known as “tranq,” has been found to contribute to a handful of overdose deaths in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and is commonly used by veterinarians to calm animals. drugs are already starting to become illegal. Street drugs here.

In San Francisco, four people who died between December and January were found to have low xylazine levels in their bodies, prompting the city’s public health department to issue a warning The drug was not known to users on Thursday, noting that it may be mixed with other drugs such as fentanyl and heroin.

Dr. Gary Tsai, director of substance abuse prevention and control for the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, said traces of the drug were found in the system of one fatal overdose victim in the county in 2021. .

No other cases have been detected locally, but Tsai said the lack of awareness and testing for xylazine could mean its real-life effects are underreported.

“It’s not regularly inspected because it’s not that common,” he said. “It could be farther away.”

Still, Tsai notes that trunks are increasingly appearing nationwide, usually mixed with opioids to enhance their effects.

U.S. law enforcement officials first noticed tranq being used as a street drug in Puerto Rico, but then noticed it began spreading to northeastern states.

“It’s still not that common, but like fentanyl, it’s more prevalent on the East Coast and moving west.

and October 2022 report, The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has warned that xylazine is increasingly being found in illegal drugs.

The drug is sometimes used alone, but the DEA reports that it is most often used in combination with other substances such as fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin.

Xylazine is primarily used in veterinary medicine as a muscle relaxant in animals. Not approved for human use.

According to the DEA report, “Xylazine has been described as providing many of the same effects in users as opioids, but with longer-lasting effects than fentanyl alone, so it may attract customers seeking longer-lasting highs.

As a sedative, the drug is difficult to detect because it produces the same kinds of effects as opioids, which are often mixed together, such as drowsiness, decreased breathing and lowered blood pressure, said Tsai.

However, people injected with xylazine have also been found to experience tissue damage such as ulcers and ulcers, and in some cases the damage can lead to amputation.

Unlike opioids, xylazine is not affected. naloxone, A drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, Tsai said.

“The main concern is that we are already in the midst of the worst national and regional overdose crisis in history. This will increase overdose deaths.”

The risk is so high that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a notice to medical personnel. November It warns that the presence of xylazine may even interfere with the effects of naloxone in fentanyl and heroin overdoses.

The FDA has recommended that the agency continue to use naloxone if an opioid overdose is suspected and “provide appropriate support to patients who do not respond to naloxone.”

Even though naloxone has no effect on xylazine, Tsai said it still makes sense to use naloxone in the event of an overdose to reverse the effects caused by opioids and increase the chances of survival. I agree with you.

Los Angeles County, like most of the country, has seen a dramatic and alarming increase in overdose deaths in recent years.This is primarily due to the rapid diffusion of fentanyl and Use of illegal drugs.

In 2019, the county recorded 1,652 accidental overdose deaths, including 462 associated with fentanyl, according to the county public health department. By 2021, the number of accidental overdose deaths in his county had risen to 2,741, 1,504 of which were attributed to fentanyl.

LA County health officials have contacted local law enforcement and county coroners to investigate and raise awareness about xylazine.

This story originally appeared los angeles times.