What Is Xylazine and Why Is It Being Cut Into Heroin And Fentanyl?

What Is Xylazine and Why Is It Being Cut Into Heroin And Fentanyl?

Written by: The Tall Cop

October 2022

Xylazine is a veterinary medicine use to sedate animals.  This depressant is NOT a controlled substance and not FDA approved for human use.  When used in veterinary clinics, the drug is in a liquid form and is generally used before surgery or procedures. 

For street level drug use, Xylazine goes by the slang term “tranq” and is used to enhance and prolong the high of opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl.  The drug is usually found in powder form or pressed into misidentified pills.  Some opioid seekers may not be aware that Xylazine may be present in the powder or pill, and this can increase the risk of overdose.  And as you know, some overdoses can be fatal. Xylazine is a cheap “cutter” for opioids and will increase the potency of various opioids.  This allows for those who are dealing drugs to maintain a very potent product while also increasing the profit margins. 

It is noteworthy to know (and educate others) that when Xylazine is present it reduces the effectiveness of Narcan and in some cases may cause the Narcan to fail altogether.  When you suspect an opioid overdose, always administer Narcan as it will impact the heroin, fentanyl or other opioids in their system.

Recently, you may have seen articles on Xylazine, especially from the Northeast part of the country. This region has been hit very hard by this drug.  Some of those articles have highlighted “flesh eating drugs”.  Xylazine damages the tissue around injection sites, which leads to large skin and tissue damage and large sores.  In some areas where Xylazine is very popular, you will see people with large bandages where their sores have been treated by medical personnel or community volunteers.  Here is a message that came in during one of the Tall Cop webinars:

"Probation &Parole from Vermont here-  We have been seeing a lot of individuals with this! Wounds that could not be explained.  Had not heard of Xylazine.  This makes so much sense.  We do not test for this”. 

Due to the powerful nature of this drug, and open accessibility, you can expect to see an increase in the popularity of Xylazine in the street level drug supply.