What is Xylazine?​​​​

Xylazine, commonly known as "tranq" is a powerful sedative that is not approved for use in humans,​ and has been found in the drug supply in Illinois. Xylazine is not an opioid, but ​can still impact an overdose.​

Xylazine is commonly used in veterinary medicine to sedate large animals such as horses, cattle, and deer. It belongs to a class of drugs known as alpha-2 adrenergic agonists and produces sedative, pain relief, and muscle relaxant effects. In veterinary practice, xylazine is used to facilitate procedures such as surgery, diagnostic imaging, and restraint.

The Dangers of Misuse

Xylazine has become increasingly popular as a recreational drug in some communities, particularly among individuals who use heroin. Xylazine is often added to heroin to increase its weight and potency, resulting in a more potent and potentially lethal combination. However, xylazine is not safe for humans and can have severe and potentially fatal consequences when ingested.

Health Risks and Side Effects

The misuse of xylazine poses numerous health risks and side effects, including:
  • ​Slow or shallow breathing, oxygen deprivation, and respiratory arrest.
  • Drowsiness, sedation, confusion, and loss of consciousness. 
  • Slowing of heart rate and low blood pressure, leading to hypotension, and cardiovascular collapse. If you become sedated and don’t move for a long time, you could get injuries related to poor circulation. Xylazine exposure can also cause severe and persistent wounds that can lead to infection if they aren’t treated.​
  • Nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal disturbances 
  • In severe cases, xylazine overdose can result in coma, seizures, and death.

Recognizing the Signs of Xylazine Use

It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of xylazine use, particularly if you or someone you know is using heroin or other street drugs. Signs of xylazine use may include:
  • Extreme drowsiness or sedation
  • Slurred speech or impaired coordination
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Blue lips or fingertips
  • Unresponsiveness or loss of consciousness

Xylazine's Impact on Opioid Overdoses

Drugs that have Xylazine in them very often have fentanyl too. ​Naloxone can reverse the effects of fentanyl, increasing the possibility of surviving a xylazine-fentanyl overdose. Test your drugs with xylazine and fentanyl test strips​.​ Get naloxone and drug test strips

Responding to an Overdose

​If you think that someone is overdosing, you need to act fast. Always call 911 first and administer naloxone every two minutes if you have it. 911 will instruct you on how to support their breathing. If they are still sedated but breathing is restored, place them in the recovery position. This will help them breathe while you wait for first responders to arrive. Learn how to respond to an opioid overdose with naloxone​.

The Good Samaritan Law provides certain legal protection when you call 911 when someone is overdosing, whether you have drugs on you or not.

Treat Your Wounds

Xylazine exposure can cause severe and persistent skin, muscle, nerve, and soft tissue wounds. This can happen even if you do not inject or may show up in places you have never injected. Wounds can lead to infection if they aren’t treated. It’s important to have supplies and to seek care for wounds. If you do not have medical insurance, contact an area Federally Qualified Health Center​.