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What Is Xylazine and Why Is It Causing So Many Overdoses?

Overdose rates from street drugs are at an all-time high. Every day, it seems like there’s another news story about fentanyl being part of a deadly mixture with other drugs. As if this wasn’t bad enough, another substance, called xylazine, is now being found in illicit drugs and making its deadly rounds.

What Is Xylazine?

According to the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), xylazine is a “non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant only authorized in the United States for veterinary use.” The DEA says that it also goes by the nickname “tranq.” It’s being reported as an adulterant in combination with fentanyl, but it’s also been detected in other drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

Why Has It Become So Prevalent?

Legally, xylazine is available through pharmaceutical distributors and on websites that cater to veterinarians. Unfortunately, it can also be easily purchased through illegal channels on the web for a very low price.

The DEA says that the low price tag is a big reason why dealers are using it as an adulterant. It also has psychoactive effects that allow them to “reduce the amount of fentanyl or heroin used in a mixture.”

Xylazine Overdose Risk

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), overdose deaths involving xylazine have especially spread across the western United States. In Pennsylvania, specifically, xylazine deaths increased from two percent to 26% from 2015 to 2020. In Maryland, it was involved in 19% of all overdose deaths in 2021.

NIDA states that xylazine can “slow breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure to dangerously low levels.” When other central nervous system depressants are taken in combination with this substance, it increases the risk of overdose.

Signs and Symptoms

According to the DEA, effects associated with Xylazine use include drowsiness, dry mouth, hypertension, and reduced heart rate. If an individual injects this substance, they may develop soft tissue injuries that could eventually result in amputation at a higher rate than any other injectable drugs.

Individuals may also develop a physical dependence on xylazine. Withdrawal symptoms could include sharp chest pains and seizures. Some people have even reported withdrawal symptoms are worse than that of heroin.

If an overdose is suspected, experts recommend giving Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication. Even though the drug is not an opioid, most reported overdoses are from opioid mixtures.

Seeking Treatment

If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, the detox program at The Guest House is a powerful first step on your road to recovery. You can expect treatment in a comfortable setting before being seamlessly transitioned into our residential care program.

At The Guest House, we offer a wide variety of traditional therapies combined with holistic healing methods to help you heal your mind, body, and soul. Our mission is to help you get to the root cause of your addiction to find lasting sobriety and true happiness, no matter what substances you may use.

Xylazine is a non-opiate sedative used in veterinary settings. Recently, this substance has been found in mixtures with illicit street drugs like fentanyl, creating a deadly combination. At The Guest House, our mission is to help you get to the root cause of your addiction so you can fully heal your mind, body, and soul. If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, our detox program is a great first step in overcoming your addiction. For more information, call us at (855) 483-7800.