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There are alarming signs Chatham-Kent’s illicit drug supply is being laced with a powerful veterinary tranquillizer, says a volunteer agency helping the homeless.

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Reach Out Chatham-Kent (ROCK) Missions and Peer-2-Peer group are holding an information session about xylazine, also known as tranq, at the Chatham Cultural Centre, Studio One, from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 22.

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Xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary tranquillizer not approved for human use, has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Narcan or naloxone has no effect on the drug, because it is not an opioid.

“We noticed it about five or six months ago, people were coming to us was with these crazy wounds that looked like spider bites to start,” said Renee Geniole, ROCK’s operations co-ordinator. “But then it turned into these wounds that were huge and people just weren’t getting better.”

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ROCK Mission began looking into xylazine and started to hear from peers about people suffering from the drug’s impacts, she said. They also learned test strips were available to test drugs for xylazine.

Test strips have found xylazine in fentanyl and methamphetamines locally, she said. “That’s when we were really raising the alarm.”

Since there is a limited drug supply chain in Chatham-Kent, it’s likely xylazine is in all illicit drugs that make it to the community, she said.

The Nov. 22 session aims to “share as much information as we can with a many people as we can,” she said. “The more we pass . . . (on) to the community, the more people could potentially help somebody.”

The session is open to everyone, especially people who support or respond to substance users, health-care workers, pharmacists, first responders and outreach teams.

Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. For tickets, search for What is Xylazine? at eventbrite.com.

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