A warning has been issued for a drug which is 'increasingly' being detected in overdoses and deaths across Scotland.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) issued a RADAR alert for the 'new synthetic' drug xylazine on Thursday, May 9.

According to the health firm, the drug is a non-opioid tranquillizer used in veterinary medicine as a sedative, muscle relaxant, and painkiller.

It also is known to reduce breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

READ MORE: 'Devastating': Drug deaths show massive rise in Glasgow

READ MORE: Work starts on Glasgow's safer drug consumption facility

PHS says people who take drugs may not be aware of the potential presence of xylazine in the supply.

The health firm says it is most likely to be consumed unintentionally and is commonly found as an adulterant in brown powders sold as heroin.

However, in the UK, it has also been detected in the wider drug supply including counterfeit opioid painkillers - codeine and tramadol - and in liquids sold as THC - a psychoactive component of cannabis - vapes.

The warning has been issued by RADAD - Rapid Action Drug Alerts and Response - which is led by PHS.

They say data within the latest RADAR report indicates that nitazenes, new synthetic opioids first identified in Scotland in early 2022, were detected during post-mortem toxicology in 12 deaths between October 1 to December 31, 2023.   

Meanwhile, xylazine was detected in five deaths during this time.

Following the alert, Police Scotland Renfrewshire and Inverclyde have shared it on their social media accounts today (Monday, May 13).

Dr Tara Shivaji, Consultant at Public Health Scotland, said: “We are very concerned about the emergence of synthetic drugs like xylazine and nitazenes within the unregulated drugs market across Scotland.

"These drugs pose a significant and increased risk of harm to people who use drugs. 

“Many overdoses involve the use of multiple drugs at the same time.

"Xylazine has largely been identified alongside other substances including heroin, therefore it’s important that people who are likely to witness an overdose carry naloxone - a medicine that temporarily reverses an opioid overdose. 

“Xylazine use is associated with the development of severe wounds and skin damage.

"Wounds can appear as spots, blisters or open sores anywhere on the body, and require prompt medical attention to prevent serious infections developing.”