Lancaster County deputies warn against Xylazine, drug used to cut opioids

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Deputies in Lancaster County are warning people against a street drug that has been detected more frequently in drug tests nationwide.

Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” has been discovered recently in Lancaster County in toxicology reports performed after overdose deaths, deputies said.

Xylazine is a sedative or muscle relaxant that is approved for veterinary purposes, authorities said, and has not been approved for human use. The federal government hasn’t classified it as a controlled substance either.

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The drug is sold in both liquid and powder form, authorities said, and in pre-loaded syringes with dosages that are for the size and weight of an animal.

Deputies said they believe Xylazine is showing up in toxicology reports because it’s used to cut other drugs like fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. It’s used to cut them because it’s cheap and not a controlled substance, investigators said. It has “psychoactive effects” that last longer than just fentanyl or heroin alone, deputies said, which means dealers can lower the amount of either drug, add Xylazine, and increase their profits.

“Negative effects from Xylazine use include respiratory depression, reduced heart rate, tachycardia followed by hypotension and bradycardia, hypertension, and coma,” deputies said.

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In combination with other drugs, it can reduce respiratory function even more. As an injection, Xylazine can lead to rotting tissue and amputation.

Narcan cannot reverse Xylazine’s effects, deputies said. There isn’t an approved antidote yet for it. However, if someone has taken a mixture of an opioid and Xylazine, the Narcan will counteract the opioid but the patient will need more care for the Xylazine. A patient likely doesn’t know they took Xylazine because they probably didn’t intentionally ingest it, since the drug is used to cut other opioids.

“Taking illicit drugs bought off someone in the community is not like taking an approved drug prescribed by a doctor with a precise dosage and dispensed by a pharmacist,” said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile. “First of all, it’s a crime. We devote countless resources investigating drug offenses and arresting offenders, and we will continue to do so. Secondly, taking street drugs is dangerous and often deadly. You might think you know what the drug is, but you might be wrong. And you’ll never know what’s mixed in with the drug you think you’re taking. The best way to avoid being the subject of an overdose call and maybe an overdose death is to not take illicit drugs.”

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