Powerful animal sedative stronger than xylazine causing drug overdose spikes

A powerful animal sedative stronger than xylazine is causing drug overdose spikes in several U.S. cities. The High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention tells Emily’s Hope that they’re seeing more medetomidine laced in illicit drugs.

Medetomidine is a potent veterinary tranquilizer not approved for human use. It can cause a slowed heart rate, hypotension, and central nervous system depression. Medetomidine belongs to the same drug class as xylazine, known as the “zombie drug,” which the DEA has issued warnings about. Recently, the DEA has observed a significant increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine.

According to CBS News, medetomidine is likely behind the recent spike in drug overdoses in Chicago. Health officials in Indianapolis have also issued an alert about this emerging drug threat. The Indy Star reports that although medetomidine is not an opioid, health officials recommend using naloxone in case opioids are involved. Additionally, they advise performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if you suspect someone is overdosing.