BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A sedative that’s only approved for animals is contributing to overdoses in Jefferson County.

It’s called Xylazine and it is showing up in drug overdoses at the Jefferson County Coroner’s office. There’s been a big increase this year, with 36 deaths so far.

“It slows down the respiration, the breathing,” Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates said. “Eventually causes a brain injury that can lead to death. It can happen very quickly. Cause drowsiness, slows breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.”

It’s being found mixed in with street drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamines.

“We are told it’s put into these products to extend euphoria,” Yates said. “But, I don’t know if the user knows.”

The cases are mainly coming up on white males in their 40′s.

“We had one case in 2019,” Yates said. “One in 2020 and in 2021, we jumped to 11. So far this year, we are only halfway through, and we have seen 36.″

Yates said it’s a drug that doesn’t work against Narcan.

“The problem with Xylazine is that its not an opioid,” he said. “So, the opioid reversing drug of naloxone or Narcan, it has no effect.”

There are no testing strips for Xylazine. Birmingham Police Narcotics Division said street drugs can be laced with anything and multiple different drugs at one.

In all 36 of the county’s deaths, there was also Fentanyl as a leading contributor.


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