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Home News State program uncovers xylazine in fentanyl samples
David Morgan
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State program uncovers xylazine in fentanyl samples

April 29, 2024 - Harm Reduction - Alert

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMHealth) has confirmed the presence of xylazine in three fentanyl samples tested through the state’s Adulterant Checking Program. 

Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” is a non-opioid, central nervous system depressant, most often used in veterinary medicine and not approved for use in humans. Xylazine has been commonly found in combination with heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl in the eastern United States for years, but this is the first time it has been officially identified in the state. 

“The identification of xylazine puts us on notice that an already dangerous drug supply has gotten that much more deadly,” said Sec. Patrick Allen of NMHealth. “Proactive measures like our Adulterant Checking Program serve as vital tools in our efforts to protect public health and empower individuals to make informed decisions about substance use. Still, there is no substitute for effective treatment and long-term recovery.” 

The Adulterant Checking Program, which began in November 2023, allows people accessing services through the Harm Reduction Program to bring in small amounts of a substance to be tested to determine its contents before use. 

Harm reduction is a model of practical principles and strategies that aim to reduce the negative consequences and risks of substance use. New Mexico was an early adopter of harm reduction programming, with services available since 1998. 

Currently, testing is offered at two sites, one each in Albuquerque and Española. The xylazine was found in fentanyl samples tested at each location and not associated with an overdose. 

“We were hopeful xylazine would not find its way into New Mexico,” said Joshua Swatek, NMHealth Hepatitis and Harm Reduction Program Manager. “However, the Adulterant Checking Program exists in part to identify new drugs in illegal substances in real time. That has the potential to save lives.” 

Early detection of drugs helps ensure interventions are in place to help minimize risk of overdose and that healthcare providers are educated on best practices in treating potential health issues associated with them. 

Xylazine can cause sedation, drowsiness, slurred speech, and disorientation in humans, and in some cases, it also causes flesh wounds that can develop at or away from injection sites or other routes of administration such as inhaling vapor or snorting. These wounds can be managed if kept clean with soap and water and bandaged. Untreated, they can become life-threatening.  

NMHealth recommends the following tips to reduce overdose risk and death: 

  • Call 911. Overdose is a medical emergency.
  • Carry naloxone and know how to use it. The most important factor to check for when responding to a suspected xylazine-involved overdose is restored breathing rather than wakefulness. The individual may still remain sedated for a time because of the effect xylazine has on humans.
  • Know how and when to perform rescue breathing (mouth to mouth CPR only).
  • Avoid mixing substances.
  • Use xylazine test strips where available. 

Xylazine testing strips will soon be available at harm reduction sites statewide, including Public Health Offices and community led programs statewide. With the newly discovered presence of xylazine in the state, NMHealth is working to provide additional training and resources to improve response and minimize the impact of xylazine on our communities.

Harm reduction providers can be located through the website and naloxone can be ordered at no cost online at

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

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