ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Thursday, May 25, new actions to drive down the spread of the illicit drug xylazine in New York State.

Hochul announced that there will be a new effort to supply free xylazine test strips through the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, as well as the Office of Mental Health. The strips are designed to detect the presence of xylazine that has been mixed in with other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin.

“Xylazine is a dangerous drug that can cause serious health complications, including overdose deaths, and New York State continues to take aggressive measures to address this growing threat,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “These new efforts will save lives and bring much-needed resources to communities that continue to experience the ongoing impact of this crisis.”

The drug, which is typically used in veterinary procedures, is not intended for human use, and is not an opioid and therefore is not responsive to overdose medications such as naloxone. It can also complicate fentanyl overdoses or cause prolonged, heavy sedation as well as skin wounds which, in severe cases, may require amputation. The federal government has also designated xylazine as an “emerging threat” as it continues to

Meanwhile, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports is continuing to educate healthcare providers by releasing a new training program on the risks of xylazine.

“The presence of xylazine is a growing concern and action needs to be taken to address this issue,” Chinazo Cunningham, commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, said in a statement. We are working to get important harm reduction tools into the hands of providers and individuals impacted by addiction, which strengthens our efforts to keep New Yorkers safe.”