More overdoses in CT involving mix of animal drug and fentanyl

Xylazine is a tranquilizer typically used on horses or cows as a sedative or pain reliever.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 5:23 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2022 at 7:53 PM EST
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(WFSB) - We’re learning more about the deadly overdose of a baby in Salem earlier this year.

Her parents are facing a manslaughter charge, and other charges in connection with her death.

As we told you Thursday, doctors say they found fentanyl and an animal drug inside her body.

That drug known as Xylazine or Tranq, as it’s known on the streets, is showing up in more fatal drug overdoses in Connecticut.

Xylazine is a tranquilizer typically used on horses or cows as a sedative or pain reliever.

“A non-human sedative drug, it failed human trials,” says Robert Heimer, Professor of Epidemiology and Pharmacology at Yale University.

But over the last few years, more humans in CT have been found with the drug in their system, after mixing it with fentanyl and overdosing.

“With Tranq specifically, what people are hoping to do is elongate the lasting effects of the opiates,” says Doctor Fredrick Dombrowski of the University of Bridgeport. He’s also the President of the American Mental Health Counseling Association.

“People experience a rush and then a rapid drop, rapid entry into withdrawal and the xylazine as a tranquilizer slows down the feeling of going into withdrawal which is something most drug users want to avoid,” says Professor Heimer.

In 2019, the lethal combination was found in 71 drug overdoses.

In 2020, the number doubled to 141.

In 2021, 295 overdoses had the combination.

This year through November 2022, 279.

“It’s really tough because the strength of Fentanyl is so severe that wanting to then elongate, that is really rolling the dice with your ability to make it through,” says Doctor Dombrowski.

Experts say the drug can cause many problems like skin lesions.

“It causes these terrible lesions that really require almost daily attention,” says Heimer. “These very ugly open sores.”

It also appears to resist the effects of Narcan.

Experts say drug users could be given more narcan than necessary, because although the Narcan will counteract the fentanyl, drug users could still be unconscious because of the Tranq.

Experts say first responders need to be better trained.

“The individual can still be under the effect of Tranq as well and they can be there for a while,” says Doctor Dombrowski.

“Instead of giving multiple doses of Naloxone (Narcan), EMTs need to be trained to give one, monitor breathing, monitor blood oxygen before they administer additional doses,” says Heimer.

So how are people getting the drug? The experts we spoke with say the drug is being obtained and sold on the black market.

You cannot get it straight from your vet.

They recommend if you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse, seek help.

Here is a list of resources, for those seeking help:

Animal drug showing up in more CT overdose deaths
Animal drug more common in CT overdose deaths