Xylazine in Humans: Short and Long-Term Effects

Published On: March 27, 20234.1 min read816 wordsCategories: Xylazine

Despite only being approved for limited veterinary uses, Xylazine in humans is becoming increasingly common, especially in cases of overdose deaths.

You may be wondering, “what is xylazine?” even if you’ve consumed it before. It’s a central nervous system depressant that is often mixed with opioids, unknown to the consumer.

Here’s an overview of Xylazine basics, its effects and what you need to know about Xylazine sores.

What is Xylazine?

Xylazine is a veterinary tranquilizer. It is used on animals like cattle, sheep, dogs, elk and horses to calm the animals in order to facilitate care, transportation, surgeries and pain relief. The effect of this drug is strong, especially in high doses.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Xylazine has been administered in studies to humans to determine potential pain-relieving effects, but the studies were terminated due to negative side effects. The drug was deemed illicit for human use and is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use.

Xylazine, sometimes called “tranq” is a central nervous system depressant, meaning the drug causes drowsiness, decreased heart rate, slowed breathing and dangerously low blood pressure. The drug is sought for its relaxing effect. It can also enhance the euphoric effect of opioids. 

How is Xylazine used?

Xylazine is most commonly cut with other drugs like fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. It is often found in cases of overdose to be mixed with several substances. Xylazine is sold in liquid or powdered form. While it is only approved for veterinary use, it can be purchased at an extremely low price with minimal protocols from Chinese suppliers, according to the DEA.

Xylazine can be inhaled, swallowed, smoked, snorted or taken intravenously. The short-term effects of the drug can be felt in under ten minutes, and depending on the dose and what it was taken with, can be felt for hours. Xylazine is commonly combined with opioids for this exact purpose, as Xylazine tends to lengthen the effect of other drugs.

Is Xylazine an opioid?

Xylazine itself is not an opioid. This drug is commonly misunderstood to be an opioid, though, likely because it is commonly found mixed in with opioids like fentanyl or heroin. Xylazine is an adulterant that is mixed with other opioids to increase the potency of these illicit drugs and many users consume Xylazine unknowingly. 

Is Xylazine addictive?

Xylazine releases dopamine in the brain, linking to the same receptors as substances like opioids. Thus, Xylazine is an addictive drug because it reroutes the brain’s pleasure signals, reinforcing continued drug use despite negative consequences.

What are Xylazine’s side effects?

Xylazine is a dangerous drug, especially when its users consume it unknowingly. Being unaware of the symptoms of this drug and the signs of overdose can lead to accidental death. 


According to the DEA, short-term Xylazine side effects include the following.

  • Blurred vision
  • Disorientation
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Staggering
  • Coma
  • Bradycardia (slowed heart rate)
  • Respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Miosis (constriction of the pupil)
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose)

These short-term effects are serious and may lead to fatality. 


Xylazine has been studied little, especially because it is commonly mixed with opioids so the effects are more difficult to discern. However, here are some common long-term effects of Xylazine abuse.

  • Cardiac issues
  • Respiratory issues
  • Xylazine sores
  • Addiction

Xylazine use, if left untreated, is likely to result in an overdose death. 

Is Xylazine use common?

Xylazine has been documented in increasing numbers in the past decade. It was first noted as an adulterant in Puerto Rico in the 2000s and has since become increasingly common across the United States, but most often in the Northeast, according to the DEA. 

The Southern region of the United States reported the highest increase in a one-year span, however, with rates rising by 193 percent. The increased prevalence of this drug has also been met with increased forensic and toxicology testing.

A study in Philadelphia found that Xylazine was reported in less than two percent of opioid overdose deaths between 2010 and 2015, and rose to over 35 percent in 2019 according to BMJ Journals.

Does Xylazine cause sores?

Xylazine has been known to cause sores, skin ulcers, abscesses and other skin irritations according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The FDA reports that injections of Xylazine cause sores that rot and easily become infected, often requiring amputation. Xylazine sores, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.

Treating Xylazine addiction

If you or someone you know has intentionally or unintentionally consumed Xylazine, on its own or mixed with other drugs, it’s essential that you understand the risks associated with this potent drug.

If you need treatment for a substance use disorder, reach out to Freedom Detox. With the right help, anyone can overcome an addiction. Don’t wait another day to find the freedom you’ve been longing for. Start by calling Freedom Detox now.

Related articles