LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the Lincoln Police Department urged residents to learn more about a potent animal tranquilizer called xylazine.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, instances of xylazine, being mixed with illicit fentanyl and other drugs like heroin and cocaine, are rapidly becoming more prevalent in communities across the U.S and those combinations can put people at higher risk of a fatal overdose.
LPD reported that there have been a total of four local cases since May 2021 in which xylazine has been identified in illegal drugs seized by officers. There have not been any fatal xylazine-related overdoses in Lincoln, according to LPD.
“Illicit xylazine use has followed similar geographic patterns seen in the spread of illicit fentanyl use – beginning in the Northeastern U.S. and later spreading south and west. Even though numbers here are currently low, history tells us that could change,” Lopez said. “We want to keep the community informed and aware of the resources available that can help address this emerging threat and potentially save lives.”
The LLCHD has also provided information about xylazine exposure to local health care professionals.
According to the DEA, Xylazine-containing products may go by the street names tranq, tranq dope, sleep cut and zombie drug, but often people who use these drugs don’t know that xylazine was added.
“LPD is dedicated to informing the public of dangerous narcotic trends occurring across the nation that may impact our community. We appreciate the partnership with the Health Department to provide this information,” said LPD Chief Teresa Ewins. “Currently, we have seen very few incidents concerning xylazine, but it is important to be aware and educated of its dangerous effects.”
Xylazine is not approved for use in people. When used in people, xylazine can cause the following symptoms:
- Unresponsiveness and decreased consciousness
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
- Reduced or slow breathing
Symptoms of xylazine use and opioid use are similar, making it difficult to determine whether a person has used both substances. Naloxone should be given in response to any suspected drug overdose to reverse possible opioid effects. Naloxone will not reverse the effects of xylazine. However, because xylazine is often mixed with opioids like fentanyl, naloxone should still be given. It’s important to call 911 for additional medical treatment, especially since the effects of xylazine may continue after naloxone is administered.
Xylazine is also known to cause severe skin ulcers and wounds. More information about xylazine is available at the CDC’s website.
It may be difficult to tell if a person is high or experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat the situation like an overdose and follow these steps:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Administer naloxone, if available.
- Try to keep the person awake and breathing.
- Lay the person on their side to prevent choking.
- Stay with them until emergency workers arrive.
Nebraska law allows bystanders to administer naloxone to save a life (Nebraska Revised Statute 28-470). Nebraska residents can get Narcan for free at participating pharmacies without a prescription. Locations in Lancaster County include:
- CHI Health Pharmacy Yankee Hill, 4055 Yankee Hill Road, Ste. 101
- Genoa Healthcare/Lutheran Family Services, 2301 “O” Street, Ste. 3
- Hy-Vee #1, 5010 “O” St.
- Kohll’s Rx, 808 N. 27th St.
- Russ’s Market, 130 N. 66th St.
- Super Saver #4, 233 N. 48th St.
- Super Saver #11, 5460 S. 56th St.
- Super Saver #27 Fallbrook, 840 Fallbrook Blvd.
- U-Save Pharmacy, 13851 Guildford St., Waverly
Local hotline numbers include:
- Lincoln Drug Crisis Hotline – 402-475-5683
- Nebraska Family Helpline – 1-888-866-8660, Hearing Impaired – 1- 888-556-5117
- CenterPointe Lancaster County Crisis Line – 402-475-6695
The Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition provides consumer and provider education and advocacy through collaborations in treatment, reducing stigma and prevention education. Residents can learn more about life saving measures and treatment options at the City of Lincoln’s website. The coalition is a group led by the LLCHD that includes community members and more than 20 Lincoln organizations.
Anyone with information about people distributing illegal drugs, especially in cases that led to overdoses, to call the LPD non-emergency number at 402-441-6000, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Narcotics Task Force at 402-441-8181 or Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.
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