May 11, 2023
Health Officer provides information on xylazine (tranq) exposure
MOBILE, Ala. — Drug-related morbidity and mortality remain high in our society. In Mobile County, 93 people died from unintentional overdoses in 2021, and many more experienced non-fatal overdoses.
The situation has only continued to grow worse. Beginning in 2001, drug dealers began mixing xylazine, an animal sedative medication, with street drugs. There has also been a rise in the number of non-fatal overdoses and skin and soft tissue infections across the United States.
Xylazine – also known as “tranq” — is is added to street opioids for synergistic effects and/or to prolong their effects, particularly that of fentanyl, which has a short duration of action. Clinically, its predominant effect is profound sedation without significant vital sign abnormalities. While xylazine does not cause severe respiratory depression observed with opioid intoxication, the profound mental status depression may cause airway compromise leading to suffocation.
Naloxone – which also goes by the brand name Narcan — should be administered for respiratory depression because xylazine and fentanyl are typically found together.
“The Mobile County Health Department is alerting providers to the presence of xylazine in Mobile County and Baldwin County,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer of Mobile County. “Inpatient treatment for opioid withdrawal may be more difficult than standard opioid withdrawal protocols and require additional pharmacologic treatments if the patient is also withdrawing from xylazine. The availability of point-of-care testing for xylazine is limited.”
For additional information on xylazine, you may visit https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/other-drugs/xylazine/faq.html.
“The Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) program is a vital resource as we continue to see increases in fatal and non-fatal overdoses in our community,” said Danielle Simpson, the MCHD Overdose Prevention program administrator. “If you or someone you know that is struggling with addiction, our team is available to provide harm reduction strategies, overdose prevention education, and peer recovery services.”
To learn more about the OD2A program, call 251-410-OD2A (6322). OD2A focuses on the complex and changing nature of the drug overdose epidemic. It highlights the need for an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and cohesive public health approach.
Additional information about the distribution of Narcan can be found on MCHD’s news smartphone app called “My MCHD Health Check.” A message can be found under the “MORE” section of the app.
The MCHD app is available for download for free in the App Store and Google Play. Search “My MCHD Health Check” or visit the following link — https://apps.myocv.com/share/a65536603.