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Tranquilizer (Xylazine) Cut in Heroin Increases Overdose Risk

Last updated on September 12th, 2023

What is Xylazine? a.k.a TRANQ

Xylazine is an effective non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant that has been authorized for veterinary use in the United States by the FDA. It is not currently classified as a controlled substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

In the early 2000s, Xylazine was first reported as an adulterant in Heroin in Puerto Rico through DEA reporting and laboratory analysis. Approximately a decade later, it was documented on the island as a drug of abuse, which has continued to be the case.

Why is Xylazine a dangerous adulterant?

Xylazine affects the central nervous system, and it can cause a range of physical effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Amnesia
  • Reduced:
  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure

These effects can be potentially dangerous, especially when other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines are also being used.

Why is dangerous to combine Xylazine and opioids?

When opioids are taken in combination with xylazine and other depressants, the risk of overdose becomes even greater.

An overdose occurs when the body is unable to process the amount of drugs that have been consumed, leading to a potentially fatal suppression of breathing and other vital functions.

Why is Xylazine used as an adulterant?

  1. Accessibility: Xylazine is legitimately sold directly to veterinarians. However, xylazine is also readily available for purchase on other Internet sites in liquid and powder form, often with no association to the veterinary profession nor requirements to prove legitimate need.
  2. Increases profit margin: Xylazine powder can be purchased online from different suppliers with common prices ranging from $6-$20 U.S. dollars per kilogram.
  3. Psychoactive effect: its psychoactive effects allows suppliers to reduce the amount of fentanyl or heroin used in a mixture.

  4. Attractive to low-income drug users: Xylazine is described as having many of the same effects as opioids, but with a longer-lasting effect than fentanyl alone. Some users intentionally seek out heroin or fentanyl mixed with xylazine, while many are completely unaware it is included as an adulterant.

Steps If Xylazine Overdose is Suspected

  1. Seek medical attention immediately.
  2. Experts recommend administering NALOXONE, which is an opioid overdose reversal medication. Even if naloxone won’t reverse the effect of xylazine on breathing, xylazine is often combined with opioids.
  3. STAY with the person until medical attention arrives – Good Samaritan Laws exist in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere to help protect you from criminal charges.

Xylazine Testing Kits

Xylazine testing products can help detect xylazine in drug samples.

Xylazine Test Kit »