Xylazine/ "Tranq"

According to the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS), Xylazine, a non-opioid sedative commonly used in veterinary medicine that is also known as "Tranq", has become increasingly prevalent in the unregulated drug supply in the United States. Although found in combination with other substances, xylazine is found in the unregulated drug supply most commonly with illicitly manufactured fentanyl (“fentanyl”).

Xylazine is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist that causes profound sedation and central nervous system (CNS) depression. This can contribute to a blunted response to airway occlusion much like the effects from other sedatives such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Because of xylazine’s co-occurrence with fentanyl, the sedation that it causes has synergistic effects with the respiratory depression caused by opioids, contributing to increases in overdose mortality. In 2021, xylazine was involved in 19% of the opioid-involved overdose deaths in NYC.

Xylazine can cause complex wounds that often occur at skin sites associated with injection, but it’s possible for them to occur at skin sites that are not associated with injection and in individuals who don’t inject substances. Xylazine wounds often begin as small superficial lesions. Early recognition and providing low-threshold access to wound care education and supplies can slow the progression of these skin wounds and prevent them from developing into severe necrotic skin ulcerations. Because xylazine wounds can become secondarily infected with bacteria, access to clean water and hygiene facilities for people who use drugs (PWUD) to be able to keep their hands and wounds clean is also important.

For more information about Xylazine, please click here.

For a helpful fact sheet from OASAS, please click here.