Caring for people with fentanyl addiction often means treating terrible wounds

Baltimore’s mobile harm intervention units are seeing more people in need of wound care due to the use of xylazine, a drug that’s causing a rise in severe flesh wounds among users.

What’s happening: Xylazine, used by drug dealers to enhance the effects of the opioid fentanyl, has been causing deep wounds, often down to the bone, among its users in Baltimore.
* Harm reduction vans have seen an increase in individuals requiring wound care, distributing wound care kits containing medical tape, gauze and disinfectant.
* Baltimore’s two mobile harm intervention vans can serve up to 70 people a day.

The big problem: Wound care is becoming complex due to substantial wounds brought about by usage of xylazine.
* Some rehabilitation centers refuse individuals with severe wounds. As a result, many find themselves directed to hospital emergency rooms for immediate care.
* Xylazine also shares similar dangerous symptoms with opioids like reduced breathing and heart rate, adding more risk to its users.

The extensiveness: The Drug Enforcement Administration has detected xylazine in opioids in 48 out of 50 states.
* Among the states, Maryland stands out with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that 80% of opioids tested at eight needle exchange sites in the state contained xylazine.

Responses and Risks: Baltimore is ramping up efforts to control the increasing threat of xylazine, while the Biden administration has categorized it as an emerging threat.
* Baltimore is providing more wound care supplies and has recently purchased xylazine test strips to detect its presence.
* The Federal administration aims to stem the spread of the drug while Congress is considering introducing legislation that would control the substance. However, no actions have been taken yet since the introduction of the idea.

View original article on NPR

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