Xylazine

According to the DEA, xylazine was found in 23% of seized fentanyl powder in 20221. Between 2015 and 2020, overdose deaths involving xylazine increased 20X in all major US regions where xylazine testing was done2.

Xylazine Test Strips
available for Indiana

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Xylazine test strips (XTS) are easy to use and a low-cost way to detect xylazine in opioid drugs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Xylazine and Xylazine Test Strips

Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” “tranq dope,” “sleep-cut,” “Philly dope,” or “zombie drug,” is a non-opioid tranquilizer used in veterinary medicine to sedate animals that is not approved for any use with humans3. It has been increasingly found in illicit fentanyl and heroin supplies nationwide since 2015 and has more recently been found in some illicit stimulant supplies (cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, etc.) as well4,5. While some people knowingly use xylazine on its own or in combination with fentanyl or heroin, many people do not know if their drug supply contains either fentanyl or xylazine3,4.

Due to the severe effects of xylazine in combination with fentanyl and it’s growing role in overdose deaths nationwide, the White House designated fentanyl combined with xylazine an emerging threat to the United States on April 12th, 20236.

Xylazine causes sedation and drowsiness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood pressure, and slow heart rate7. Repeated use of xylazine can result in dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms3,4,7, and repeated injection has been associated with severe wounds and skin ulcers which can cause necrosis that may lead to amputation3,4. Other symptoms that have been reported include high blood sugar, less bladder control, feeling tired frequently, slower reflexes, trouble swallowing, and severe dry mouth8.

Xylazine test strips are a drug testing technology. They can be used to test drugs for traces of xylazine, allowing a person using drugs to know what they are putting into their body.
Many xylazine test strips on the market are highly accurate when testing opioids for xylazine, however, it is recommended to only test opioids using XTS at this time.
Xylazine test strips detect the presence of xylazine in an opioid. They do not not measure how much xylazine is contained in a drug sample nor do they measure the potency of the supply.

While naloxone will not reverse the effects of xylazine, it is still recommended that naloxone be used since xylazine is often used in combination with opioids9. After administering 1 dose of naloxone, check to see if the breathing. If they are not breathing or have slow, shallow breaths, call 911 immediately and do rescue breaths for 3-5 minutes (see how to do rescue breathing here: bit.ly/Rescue-Breathing-Ex). Once the person is breathing, do not administer any more naloxone! Xylazine will keep someone sedated until it wears off. Stay with the person until EMS arrives and keep an eye on them in case breathing slows or stops. Put the person in the rescue position on their side so they do not choke on vomit.

For more information about xylazine and xylazine test strips, see the fact sheets below.

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