Animal tranquilizer killed hundreds of people

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:34 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Xylazine was linked to more than 40% of drug overdose deaths in 2022, according to the Peoria County Coroner’s office.

The drug is almost never seen by itself but rather paired with synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

According to JOLT Harm Reduction’s program director, this is nothing new. He also said it isn’t surprising.

“A lot of times our traditional war on drug tactics try to go after the supply side,” said program director Chris Schaffner. “Think about whichever drug is being moved into an area, and they try to disrupt that. That leaves a vacuum. Right? So something tries to fill that void.”

Both Schaffner and Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood confirmed the high has proved to have a quicker effect, but the withdrawal is even more powerful than fentanyl alone.

“You have to go back, and you have to use it multiple times a day,” claimed Chris Schaffner. “Instead of two or three times, you can be looking at four to six to even seven or eight times a day, so you can avoid those serious withdrawals and that dope sickness.”

“The difficulty to reverse an overdose when xylazine is present as well as the quantity of fentanyl,” said Harwood. “It takes a superior amount of Narcan to reverse someone who is intoxicated with xylazine and to the point of unresponsiveness.”

With the growing concern for life after using xylazine-laced fentanyl at a peak, the addiction is not the most concerning part. The animal tranquilizer rots the skin, leaving black marks that must be treated.

JOLT will provide free Narcan to those who need it, free of charge.