LEONARDTOWN, MD – In response to the alarming nationwide increase in the trafficking of a fatal drug combination known as “Tranq” (a mixture of fentanyl and a powerful non-opioid animal sedative, xylazine), the St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) is now providing free xylazine testing strips to detect its presence in illicit drugs.

The dangerous mix of xylazine and fentanyl puts users at greater risk of fatal intoxication. Unlike opioids, xylazine’s effects cannot be reversed by naloxone (Narcan®), although naloxone can be effective against fentanyl overdoses. This lethal mixture can also result in severe wounds, leading to necrosis or rotting of skin tissue and possibly requiring amputation.

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St. Mary’s County residents can obtain these testing strips free from the St. Mary’s County Health Hub through the Harm Reduction Program, available on a walk-in basis. The program aims to mitigate the harm associated with drug use, including overdoses, infections, and wounds.

SMCHD strongly encourages those struggling with addiction to seek professional assistance for their substance abuse. The Health Hub offers numerous resources, including the Harm Reduction Program (HRP), to aid those ready for treatment. Services provided by the HRP include infectious disease testing, Narcan®, and the testing of drug paraphernalia for fentanyl or other substances like xylazine. Local treatment options are available via the SMCHD website, a direct call to 301-862-1680, or by walking in during regular business hours at the St. Mary’s County Health Hub.

Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer, emphasized the urgency of understanding the risks associated with xylazine, stating, “Anyone struggling with addiction needs to know about the dangers of xylazine and how it is getting mixed into the drug supply. These new test strips for xylazine will help prevent fatalities. Our Health Hub team also provides many other resources to connect people to effective drug use treatment and support them in recovery.”

For more details about the SMCHD Harm Reduction Program, readers are directed to smchd.org/harmreduction. Further information about the St. Mary’s County Health Hub is available at smchd.org/hub.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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