MONROE COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — Authorities around the Rochester Metro are linking deadly overdoses to a substance known as Xylazine, or often referred to as “Horse Tranquilizer.” In its latest public health advisory on Thursday, Monroe County warned dangerous drugs are being mixed with Xylazine.
Meant for relaxing muscles of large animals, Xylazine is instead being combined with street drugs without approval for human use of any kind. The substance is believed to cause depression in respiratory and central nervous systems, blurred vision and loss of breath. More recently, it was found in the streets of Rochester — mixed with heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.
The substance is believed to be stronger than others and Narcan does not work against “Horse Tranquilizer” alone.
“You still should use the Narcan because you’re not sure what’s in that bag they’re using,” Gates Police Chief James Vanbrederode advised. “It still works for the opioids but not for the Horse Tranquilizer, but this does change the game.”
In the past week, seven people have died of overdoses in Monroe County. Gates Police report a 70% increase in calls on their recovery hotline.
In response, the community is taking advantage of classes offered at the Gates Police Station, certifying people to use Narcan on anyone they come across at home or on the street overdosed.
“If I could save just one life, I’ve got to go for this,” resident Mack McCarthy said. “So, I came down to be certified and had a lot of questions to ask. Is it going to hurt them, and they say no. So, they answered a lot of questions.”
Reviving someone through Narcan is done by injecting one dose up each nostril. Meanwhile, the community surrounding Grand Avenue in Rochester supported the fight against addiction using another method —praying. Their actions came in the wake of three deadly overdoses in the area.
In order to accelerate possible solutions, several individuals demand churches be allowed to open back up to offer direct resources.
“The churches must be open, so they’ll be able to do their thing and teach everyone,” Rochester native Joeanne Lesure said. “You know it’s sad when a minister has to go to people’s homes and talk to them or console them about their loved ones.”
Monroe County offers a 24/7 helpline to call for assistance with drug addiction or anyone you know that may be battling one. The number is 585-627-1777. Training for any Narcan certification is free.