More than just scary

Cathy Brownfield

The War on Drugs has an official start date. Actually there are several of them. The first one was June 18,1971. President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “Public Enemy Number One.” He saw to an increase in federal funding for drug-control agencies and drug treatment, according to “The War on Drugs: History, Policy and Therapeutics – Research Guides” at research.dom.ed


Looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the war continued with the first wave of the opioid epidemic of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids through the 1990s. In 2010, the second wave came along with overdose deaths involving heroin. The third wave, 2013, showed significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly those involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

Now we are facing what the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has informed us, “Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier.”

Xylazine is a non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxer only authorized in the United States for veterinary use, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A xylazine overdose will not be reversed with naloxone, but because it is often mixed with an opioid, it is advised to use the Narcan anyway.

The CDC reports the crisis is “demand and supply driven,” because of “desperation related to the decline in the quantity and quality of low-skill jobs collided with a market flooded with opioids and other drugs.”


At, the National Security Council advises, “Currently, 71 percent of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25-54, and the number of deaths among individuals 55 and older is growing rapidly. Few opioid deaths occur among children younger than 15.”

In 2022, there were an estimated total of 7,714,521 drug-related ED visits in the U.S., reports the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). The rate of drug-related ED visits was 2,153 per 100,000 population. Alcohol was the highest percentage of ED visits (45 percent), opioids (12.7 percent) and cannabis (11.9 percent).

“According to a joint intelligence report from the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice, information from users are the main sources of information on the adverse effects of xylazine in humans since standard drug trials have not been conducted,” reports the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities. “Unfortunately, there is no widely available test for xylazine. Efforts to expand access to xylazine test strips, similar to fentanyl test strips, are underway. When a person has wounds that may look dark, smell and hurt, with no other explanation that can often be a sign that someone is abusing xylazine. It is known to have severe physical effects on the body, sometimes disfiguring users, who develop sores, that not only look painful, that often won’t heal.”

According to, “The number one per capita consumer of opioids in the world is the United States, and Canada is third. Germany is second, but by all accounts, it does not have an opioid epidemic.”

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) notes that Australia and some European countries have begun to experience rising trends of opioids consumption and overdose deaths.

In April, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Rahul Gupta, MD, formally designated fentanyl adulterated or associated with xylazine as an emerging drug threat, triggering federal action. This week the six-point federal response plan was released.

“The [State of Ohio] Board of Pharmacy, in an emergency rule filing, has added xylazine to the list of Schedule III controlled substances,” it was announced through Rule Watch Ohio on Wednesday. “This is in response to the increasing number of overdoses from xylazine mixed with fentanyl,” said Kelsey Woolard, Director of Governmental Affairs, Governmental Policy Group.

For help or more information, contact Family Recovery Center, 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468. Visit the website at FRC is funded in part by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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