vial with clear drug solution and a syringe
Published On: March 26, 2024|Categories: Substance Abuse|

When illicit drugs are created in a lab, unadulterated products are rarely processed. Most of the time, manufacturers will mix drugs with other substances to expand the batch and make a great profit for less cost. 

One such substance that has been noted in these concoctions – and has even been abused on its own – is xylazine. 

Never intended for use in humans, xylazine poses a significant threat to the health of those who seek its effects. Due to its relatively new status as an abusable drug, few regulations currently exist to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

What is xylazine – the facts 

Although it has similar depressant effects on the central nervous system as some opioids and benzodiazepines, xylazine does not fall into this category of medicine. 

Xylazine was intended for use in animals 

Xylazine is a non-opiate sedative, analgesic, and muscle relaxant only authorized in the United

States for veterinary use according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” Xylazine is often used in the veterinary field in conjunction with ketamine to anesthetize animals undergoing surgical operations. 

This animal tranquilizer “was determined to be unsafe for humans in the 1960s and has never been approved for human use due to the risks of severe CNS depression and eschars requiring amputation in some humans.” However, this has not stopped individuals from seeking out the substance and mixing it with opioids to extend euphoric effects.

Is xylazine scheduled by the DEA?

Because the process of scheduling drugs is lengthy, xylazine is not scheduled at a federal level at this time. But this “long, multi-agency process … began in October 2021. Now that the DEA has completed its 8-Factor Analysis, future steps will involve Congress passing legislation to schedule xylazine, likely as a Schedule III controlled substance. Separately, some states are passing (or have already passed) their controlled substance legislation surrounding xylazine.” 

States have scheduled xylazine on their own, anywhere from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule IV. 

Xylazine is worsening the opioid crisis 

According to the DEA, “Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier … DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23 percent of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”

Many opioids are not long lasting and their effects wear off rather quickly. The point of mixing xylazine in with these other opioids boost the life of the side effects and maintain that euphoric high for a longer length of time. Unfortunately, other side effects are also boosted – or, in the case of negative effects – worsened. 

What are xylazine side effects?

According to the CDC, xylazine can cause the following side effects

  • “Sedation
  • “Difficulty breathing
  • “Dangerously low blood pressure
  • “Slowed heart rate
  • “Wounds that can become infected
  • “Severe withdrawal symptoms
  • “Death”

Xylazine also enhances the effects of other opioids including cocaine, heroin and fentanyl, meaning all negative mental and physical effects are significantly increased. This can quickly escalate into a life-threatening situation as many of these drugs slow the central nervous system and can rapidly cause non-responsiveness in humans.

Naloxone does not reverse xylazine overdose

When someone overdoses on opioids, it is recommended to administer naloxone for the sake of increasing respiratory rate and reviving individuals long enough for professional medical assistance to arrive on the scene. Unfortunately, since xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone does not effectively reverse its effects on the body. 

That being said, xylazine is almost always adulterated with other opioids like cocaine, heroin or fentanyl. For this reason, administering naloxone if an overdose is suspected is important as it will still work against these additional substances.

Support for drug abuse 

Xylazine is rarely used on its own, but its combination with other drugs can become an extremely dangerous practice and lead to many health problems, both physical and mental. Addiction may occur as a result of illicit substance abuse, which could, in turn, lead to life-threatening overdose. 

If you are struggling with addiction or substance abuse of any kind, it is important to get the right help to prevent addiction from worsening and physical health problems from arising. To get the support you need today, contact High Focus Centers anytime online or by calling our offices at 866-204-7306.

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