The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is warning about the presence of the drug xylazine, commonly referred to as tranq, in illicit drug samples tested by the department. Authorities are concerned that people are ingesting xylazine without knowing it when using illicit drugs such as fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Scientific Services Bureau has detected xylazine in limited quantities of illicit drugs seized by local law enforcement in Los Angeles County, signaling that the substance is present in the local drug supply. Xylazine is a veterinary anesthetic that is not approved by the FDA for human consumption. The drug can cause dangerously low blood pressure, a decrease in breathing and heart rate, and damage to tissue. Xylazine usage can lead to skin wounds, large sores and ulcers when consumed by people.
Public health officials stressed that the findings show that the illicit drug supply in Los Angeles County is dangerous and consumption can increase overdose deaths. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health first released a health alert on March 8, 2023, indicating that xylazine is being mixed with illicit opioids and pressed into counterfeit pills of Norco, Percocet, Vicodin and Xanax. Xylazine is used as a cheap additive to increase the effects of the drugs, authorities said.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials warns people to avoid using illicit drugs. To minimize the risk of overdose for people who are using drugs, the department urges people to never use substances alone. Using with another person increases the chances of lifesaving interventions such as the administration of naloxone in instances of an overdose. People are also encouraged to start with small “tester” doses to reduce the risk of an overdose if a substance is contaminated with fentanyl or xylazine. The effects of combining substances may be stronger and more unpredictable than using one drug alone, authorities said.
Carrying Naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose, is recommended. However, xylazine is not an opioid and Naloxone does not reverse its effects.
The sheriff’s department crime lab analyzed 4,608 controlled substance samples and detected xylazine in 13 samples. All samples that contained xylazine also contained fentanyl. For information, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov.