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Montgomery County coroner issues warning about Narcan-resistant drug

Montgomery County Public Health
Dayton & Montgomery County Public Health Official Facebook Page

Montgomery County has seen an increase in the presence of a drug called Xylazine in both overdose deaths and drug supply. The county coroner says it has been found in 15 suspected overdose deaths this year.

In January, Montgomery County saw an increase in the presence of a drug called Xylazine in overdose deaths and drug supply. The county coroner said Xylazine, also called "tranq dope," was found in 15 suspected overdose deaths in Montgomery County this year.

Xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer, has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths nationwide.

The Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab said when a substance is mixed with Xylazine, Narcan would not be effective. This poses a potential problem to successfully revive someone with Narcan.

Another dangerous drug — valerylfentanyl — was also associated with numerous accidental overdose deaths in 2019 and 2020.

Jennifer Watson, the chemistry technical leader at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, said this drug has similar effects to fentanyl.

"There's very little anecdotal information as far as its potency and whether or not it's less than or more than fentanyl,” Watson said. “The  concern with that is it's just another fentanyl analog that can be present in those drug samples that then may or may not be more potent than fentanyl itself.”

Sydney Silverstein, a researcher on substance abuse disorders and treatment at Wright State University, said while community effort is key to addressing substance abuse, more could be done at the state level.

“Aside from legalizing drug checking and safe sites, I think it's also including people with lived experience in policy making decisions,” Siverstein said. “Get their input, because they're really the ones who understand the complications, the risks, the challenges, the stigma.”

Local Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Servicesleaders say they want people to know that help is available. Tina Rezash is with the response team.

“We really want to reduce the stigma of conversation around mental health and substance use disorder,” Rezash said. “We need to keep the lines of communication open, so when someone finds themselves in a situation of needing help, they feel comfortable and competent to reach out.”

Since the Crisis Call center launched in January last year, more than 12,000 people have called the hotline and more than 600 people received the in-person care of the mobile crisis response team.

The Community Overdose Action has warned that there is no safe way to use illegal drugs. They recommend always having someone with Narcan available while using drugs.

To get a narcan kit, call 937-734-9468. To access treatment and supportive services here in Montgomery County, call 833-580-2255.

Ngozi Cole is the Business and Economics Reporter for WYSO. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is a 2022 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow. Ngozi is from Freetown, Sierra Leone.