NCW — The Chelan-Douglas Health District and other local health jurisdictions have warned the public that xylazine, a synthetic tranquilizer, may be found in fentanyl and other opioids.
Xylazine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use, but is often mixed with fentanyl and other illicit drugs to prolong or strengthen the effect of those drugs, the Chelan-Douglas Health District said in a news release.
People who overdose on opioids mixed with xylazine, however, cannot be revived with naloxone — an emergency drug that helps reverse an overdose from opioids. And currently no medical treatment can counteract a xylazine overdose.
The health district along with other local health jurisdictions — Grant County Health District, Kittitas County Public Health and the Okanogan County Public Health District — anticipate an increase in drugs containing xylazine throughout North Central Washington.
But few tests are available to determine whether someone has been exposed to xylazine or if a drug was laced with xylazine. In the past, detecting the appearance of a new drug was done by detecting a change in the pattern of overdoses and deaths.
Sixty-three people died due to an overdose with any opioid across Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan counties in 2022, according to state Department of Health data. That’s nearly double the 35 overdose deaths involving any opioid in 2021.
The health district advised people with substance use disorders that street drugs will likely contain xylazine, according to the news release.
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