Xylazine, otherwise known as Tranq, was originally developed as a veterinary sedative. This previously innocuous horse tranquilizer has emerged as a dangerous abused substance—and one that is increasingly available on the streets.
Unfortunately, xylazine has several extremely serious side effects for humans. The consequences of xylazine abuse are many and pose significant risks for those using the drug.
Xylazine Use is on the Rise
There are many reasons why xylazine is infiltrating the market for illicit substances, chief of which are its sedative effects and its potential to enhance the effects of other drugs. The primary reasons why more and more people are using xylazine today include:
- It enhances other substances. Xylazine is often used in combination with other drugs, such as opioids or cocaine, to enhance or prolong their effects. This can lead to a more intense or prolonged high, which appeals to some users. It’s especially being mixed with fentanyl on the street; approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA in 2022 contained xylazine.
- It’s getting exposure in drug circles. Some individuals are being introduced to xylazine by peers or within drug-using communities. This often leads to experimenting with the drug or having it included as part of a drug “cocktail.”
- It’s an alternative to other drugs. Because xylazine is a sedative, some users who want a depressant-like effect are switching to the newer drug as an alternative to other substances, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol. Some people struggling with substance abuse may turn to xylazine if their preferred substances are unavailable or unaffordable.
- It’s cheap and available. Compared to some other street drugs, xylazine is relatively inexpensive. It may also be more readily available than some other substances, especially in those areas where it is widely used for veterinary applications.
- Some people use it to self-medicate. Some individuals are turning to xylazine in an attempt to manage pain or anxiety, even though it is not licensed for use by humans.
- Not everyone is aware of the danger. Xylazine is a relatively new drug, therefore many individuals are unaware of the dangers it poses to users.
Because of these and other reasons, plus an increasing supply, xylazine use is on the rise. This is not a good thing.
Xylazine is Extremely Dangerous
The use of xylazine, especially in combination with other illicit substances, carries significant health risks. It is not approved for human consumption and its effects are difficult to combat. For example, because xylazine is not an opioid, Narcan cannot be used to counteract its effects. This leaves heavy users at greater risk of overdose and death.
The dangers of using xylazine are many and substantial, including:
- Respiratory depression, which can lead to a decreased supply of oxygen to vital organs, which can be fatal.
- Serious abscesses and skin ulcers that result in a zombie-like effect and can result in amputation.
- Cardiovascular issues. Including bradycardia (slowed heart rate) and hypotension (low blood pressure).
- Loss of consciousness, due to xylazine’s sedative properties, which can be dangerous if a user is driving an automobile, operating machinery, or in an unsafe environment.
- Impaired cognitive function, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and confusion.
- Mental health implications, including mood disorders, anxiety, and psychosis.
- Risk of dependency and addiction, just as with similar frequently abused substances.
These dangers are clear and should not be easily dismissed. There is nothing good about xylazine for humans and it is becoming a major scourge in cities across the country.
Valley Medical Laboratory is Now Testing for Xylazine
To help combat the burgeoning xylazine crisis, Valley Medical Laboratory is now including testing for xylazine as part of our standard toxicology testing. Xylazine testing is available to all of our treatment center partners. To learn more about our xylazine testing, please contact us online, via email at email@example.com, or via phone at 612-471-1411. Xylazine use is becoming increasingly common and we need to work together to combat its impact on your clients.