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Massachusetts officials warn that animal sedation drug found in state’s street drug supply



BERKSHIRE COUNTY — The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office cautions the community about the presence of an animal sedation drug in the drug supply.

Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream at Brandeis University noted a significant percentage of opioid samples testing positive for the presence of Xylazine, especially in Western Massachusetts. MADDS found the drug in both powder and counterfeit pain pills. The Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab finds Xylazine frequently used as a cutting agent.

In 2021, 12 out of 33 samples MADDS tested in Berkshire County contained Xylazine. As of June 2022, 10 out of 42 samples tested positive for Xylazine. Statewide MADDS reports that 28 percent of samples tested positive for Xylazine.

“I thank MADDS for testing and alerting our community to changes in the drug supply. I urge people who use drugs to be cautious with their intake and never use alone,” District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.

“Sharing and raising awareness about what is in the local drug supply is a proven harm reduction measure to prevent tragedy.”

Implementing harm reduction strategies across the county and treating people with compassion is an evidence-based solution to the opioid and overdose epidemic.

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office signed a Memorandum of Agreement with MADDS to allow them to operate in Berkshire County as part of a statewide effort to supply the community and first responders with data to prevent fatal overdoses.

The District Attorney asks that everyone learn the signs of overdose and act immediately – call 911, administer Naloxone, perform rescue breathing, and stay with the person until help arrives. While Narcan will not reverse the effects of Xylazine, Narcan will reverse the effects of the opioid present, so always administer Narcan.

The Good Samaritan Law protects those who report an overdose from arrest and prosecution for drug possession.

Xylazine can cause over-sedation, decreased consciousness, low blood pressure, slowed heart rate, and reduced breathing. In combination with opioids, Xylazine increases the risk for overdose, and over-sedation for long periods of time can cause damage to muscles, nerves, and kidneys.

Xylazine is used for sedation, anesthesia, muscle relaxation, and analgesia in non-human mammals.

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