ODL Leading the CHARIOT Toward Xylazine Harm Reduction in Marion County

Harm reduction is an ongoing challenge, especially when new and harmful drugs rear their heads in our community. One of the latest street drugs, Xylazine, otherwise known as “tranq,” is an animal tranquilizer mixed with any combination of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, “Xylazine-positive overdose deaths in the Midwest increased by more than 500% from 2020 to 2021,” leading to its classification as a growing threat. The Marion County Health Department began tracking the drug’s increasing local presence the following year and, in January 2023, reported finding Xylazine in 55% of tested syringes. That percentage grew as high as 68% but then lowered to 65% by the end of the year.

Pushing Back With Harm Reduction Resources and Strategies

Overdose Lifeline (ODL) is leading the charge against this threat by distributing 39,227 Xylazine test strips across the state. Our Community Harm Reduction and Improved Outcomes Team (CHARIOT) has given 522 test strips specifically to Marion County residents at different pop-up events in response to drug seizures or overdose spikes in those ZIP codes. There are also free testing strips available through NaloxBoxes placed in various Eskenazi Health facilities and other locations throughout Marion County.

More About CHARIOT and its Impact on Fighting Xylazine

CHARIOT is a direct response to the threat in Marion County. It is a community-based program aimed at preventing overdose deaths before they occur by analyzing drug seizure, bad batch, and overdose spike reports and getting harm reduction services into the affected areas. CHARIOT pulls in support from other local organizations, like Eskenazi Health, for example, to address multiple health needs related to overdose treatment and prevention. CHARIOT also provides fentanyl testing strips at pop-up events, clinics, and via NaloxBoxes.

Governor Eric Holcomb helped the cause by signing a law making the possession of Xylazine a misdemeanor. There is also a chance of classifying it as a controlled substance at the federal level via Congress and with support from several Indiana lawmakers. In the meantime, ODL and CHARIOT will continue to push overdose prevention efforts in Marion County to sway the tide in the community’s favor. 

To receive notifications and text message alerts relating to bad batches, drug seizures, overdose spikes, and where and when to access fentanyl test trips, text SOAR to 765-358-7627. You can also request Xylazine test strips directly from ODL here.

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