BOSTON, MA April 10, 2023 – The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is excited to announce the launch of a xylazine pilot project in partnership with Brandeis University and Thomas Jefferson University. The goal of the project is to help PAARI partners address the emerging threat of xylazine, an animal sedative that is being mixed into opioids and other stimulants.
“We are proud to be collaborating with PAARI on this important and relevant project,” says Dr. Mary Jo Larson of Brandeis University. “Based on what we have learned from communities that have already been impacted, xylazine is forecasted to have a devastating effect throughout the nation without further intervention. We want to help spread pertinent information about the drug to those who will deal with it first hand.”
According to Massachusetts Drug Supply Stream data, xylazine was found in 13% of heroin and fentanyl samples tested in 2020, 31% of opioid samples in 2021 and over 33% of opioid samples in 2022. This is of great concern due to xylazine’s presence in an increasing number of overdose deaths and its effect of leading to extreme sedation and serious skin wounds.
The xylazine pilot project has three components. The first component is creating focus groups from communities affected by xylazine. Thomas Jefferson is conducting this portion of the project with groups in Philadelphia, PA, where over 90% of illicit opioids tested contain xylazine.
The second component of the project will consist of PAARI hosting 1-hour training sessions about xylazine to its law enforcement partners and interested community members. These trainings will be held on April 27th, 12 p.m. EST, May 23rd, 3 p.m. EST and August 9th, 2 p.m. EST. The link to our second training is on May 23rd HERE.
The final component of the project will include a handful of PAARI partners participating in a 3-hour workshop with representatives from community organizations to discuss xylazine. Participating departments will develop an appropriate response for their local communities and will receive wound kits to distribute to community members and organizations. Departments will be required to attend a 1-hour virtual xylazine training before the workshop. These workshops will be followed by a visit from the evaluation team, two months later, to conduct interviews and observation.
“We thank Brandeis University and Thomas Jefferson University for taking the time to work with us on this project.” says Zoe Grover-Scicchitano, Executive Director of PAARI. “It is our duty to prepare our partners to address the emerging threat of this and other drugs. This project is the first step in tackling this important work.”
Written by: Isabella Nowak
ABOUT PAARI: The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Founded alongside the groundbreaking Gloucester, Mass., Police Department Angel Initiative in June 2015, PAARI has been a driving force behind this rapidly expanding community policing movement. We provide technical assistance, strategic guidance, connection to training resources, and other capacity-building resources to more than 700 police departments in 40 states.
PAARI works with more than 130 law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts alone. PAARI and our law enforcement partners are working towards a collective vision where non-arrest diversion programs become a standard policing practice across the country, thereby reducing overdose deaths, expanding access to treatment, improving public safety, reducing crime, diverting people away from the criminal justice system, and increasing trust between law enforcement and their communities. Our programs and partners have saved tens of thousands of lives, changed police culture, and reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic since its founding in June 2015. Learn more at paariusa.org.