Laguna Treatment Hospital Warns of Adulterant Xylazine in Illicit Drug Supply

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., March 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Laguna Treatment Hospital, a leading provider of substance use and co-occurring mental health treatment, is warning residents about the dangers of xylazine, a veterinary anesthetic appearing in the state’s illicit drug supply.

Surprisingly, xylazine is not a new problem. Illicit xylazine use was reported back In the early 2000s and became a worrying issue in Puerto Rico in the mid-2000s. It wasn’t until 2019 that its presence was felt nationwide when it was primarily used as a fentanyl additive. As of 2021, xylazine identification in the western part of the US has increased by 112%.

“Xylazine really has the potential to make this overdose crisis the country’s experiencing significantly worse, and unfortunately, I think that’s what might happen,” said Dr. Gary Mitrevolis, medical director at Laguna Treatment Hospital. “Just when we thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, along comes another adulterant with the potential to take more lives.”

The most concerning aspect of xylazine’s presence in the illicit drug supply is its potential to significantly increase the number of overdose deaths. A 2022 study on overdose deaths and xylazine found that 98% of xylazine-involved overdose deaths also included fentanyl, though its presence is increasing in other substances, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Xylazine and fentanyl are routinely detected in combination because of the synergistic effect the anesthetic has on fentanyl - the euphoric effect of fentanyl is not long lasting and xylazine extends it.

Xylazine is a nonopioid anesthetic commonly found alongside fentanyl; even if a fentanyl overdose were identified and naloxone administered, there is no antidote for the respiratory depression induced by xylazine. The same applies for other substances: if not addressed in a timely manner with acute medical attention or mechanical ventilation, death is imminent. Further, because xylazine is typically administered via intravenous injection, the sores, abscesses, soft tissue infections, necrotic wounds and amputations caused by its use are a danger all their own.

“We’re in a completely different stage of the overdose crisis; gone are the days of prescription medications being the culprit, now, we have additions like xylazine, nitazenes and fentanyl analogs included making the use of a substance a single fatal mistake,” said Dr. Mitrevolis. “It’s especially frightening to see people in the grips of addiction today as substances continue to become more lethal. For anyone struggling, I’d urge them to please reach out for help.”

About Laguna Treatment Hospital
Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County, CA. The hospital treats patients who are struggling with drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring mental/behavioral health issues. For more information, call 949-523-1877.

Laguna Treatment Hospital
24552 Pacific Park Drive
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Maz Rodriguez
Public Relations Manager