Xylazine, or “tranq,” is animal tranquilizer that is not approved for human use. Xylazine has been increasingly found in the U.S. illicit drug supply, and studies have linked it to rising numbers of overdose deaths and serious skin infections. Xylazine is still a new and emerging issue in California, and experts are concerned that xylazine may penetrate the California drug supply and increase fatal overdoses.
SAMHSA is now allowing the purchase of xylazine test strips with State Opioid Response (SOR) funds. DHCS SOR III contractors can find an updated list of allowable activities and expenditures, which includes xylazine test strips, under California’s SOR III grant on the California MAT Expansion Project website. For questions regarding specific allowable and unallowable activities and expenditures, please contact your DHCS program manager or email DHCSMATExpansion@dhcs.ca.gov.
For more information and resources on xylazine, visit the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) xylazine webpage. This webpage also includes an issue brief on xylazine, which outlines health risks and harm reduction strategies for xylazine. The issue brief states that health professionals, drug treatment providers, local policymakers, and harm reduction programs can prepare for xylazine by taking these steps:
- Support the development, implementation and scale-up of harm reduction services.
- Scale-up community-based naloxone distribution to people who use drugs.
- Advise health care professionals and first responders to consider xylazine exposure in cases where an overdose is not responsive to naloxone.
- Encourage clinicians to include xylazine exposure in the differential diagnosis of necrotic skin ulcerations in a person who is using drugs.
- Communicate xylazine trends to people who use drugs and those who work directly with them.
- Expand access to medication for opiate use disorder (MOUD).