Xylazine

Sedative

Xylazine is a powerful and dangerous anaesthetic that relaxes the muscles and causes severe drowsiness. It is often mixed with opioids like heroin and nitazenes, and has been found in other illicit drugs like benzodiazepines and THC vapes. If a drug contains xylazine, because it’s not what’s expected and could have different effects, there is an increased risk of harm, overdose and death.

Also known as:

  • Tranq dope

What does xylazine look like?

Xylazine will look different depending on what it’s mixed with. If it’s mixed with another drug, it’s often impossible to see it.

How is xylazine taken?

Most of the time, people aren't aware that xylazine has been mixed into the drug that they think they’re taking. This makes it even more dangerous and significantly increases the risk of overdose.

Xylazine can be:  

  • Snorted up the nose 

  • Swallowed as powder wrapped in a cigarette paper (also called ‘bombing’)

  • Smoked in a cigarette 

  • Injected*

*Injecting is particularly dangerous and increases risks including infection with Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) like Hepatitis C or HIV.

How can xylazine make me feel?

Xylazine can make you feel very tired.

It can also:

  • Slows your breathing 

  • Lower your heart rate

  • Reduce your blood pressure

  • Change body your temperature 

This can lead to coma, and in some cases, can be fatal.

How long do the effects last?

It depends on several factors, including your age, weight and metabolism, what you have already taken, the purity of the drug, and the dose.

Generally speaking, if it’s not mixed with another drug, the effects start a few minutes after using, and can last for 4 hours or even longer depending on the dose you have taken.

What happens to my body if I use xylazine frequently? 

Xylazine can cause severe skin damage and open wounds, regardless of how it is taken. Wounds caused by xylazine use spread and worsen very quickly. These wounds may appear on any part of the body, and it’s very difficult for them to heal on their own, so it is important to get medical attention for them as soon as possible.

How to reduce harm while using xylazine

We recognise that some ways of using drugs carry less risk than others, and by providing information which supports people to make informed decisions, we can help people to minimise harm.

  • Try not to use on your own: It is best not to use alone, or if you’re in a position where there is nobody you could call for help. A buddy system - where one person takes their hit first and waits until the peak effects have worn off before the other person uses - makes it more likely that someone can help if anyone overdoses.
  • Try not to mix: The risks associated with xylazine increase significantly when it’s mixed with other drugs and can lead to overdose.  
  • Start low, go slow: If using a new batch, start with a low dose and adjust slowly, as strength can vary between batches.
  • The recovery position: The recovery position helps to prevent someone unconscious from choking on vomit. If someone is unconscious, put them in the recovery position, get help, and stay with them - this will help to reduce the risk of harm.

What do I do if I think someone has overdosed?

If you think someone has overdosed, put them in the recovery position and get help fast by calling 999, telling emergency services what you know. 

Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Not being able to wake someone up
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking

If you suspect someone has overdosed, it’s always best to administer naloxone. Naloxone won’t reverse the effects of Xylazine, but it reverses the effects of opioid drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl. Drugs bought illicitly can contain a mixture of substances, including opioids, so use naloxone if you have it. If someone hasn’t overdosed on opioids, naloxone won’t harm them. 

You can get a naloxone kit and training on how to use it from your local WithYou service. 

More information about naloxone, including how to use it.

Withdrawal signs, symptoms, and what to do

If your body develops a tolerance to xylazine, you may feel you need to take more to get the same effects.

You can become dependent on xylazine, and regular use can lead to physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or cut back.

We recommend getting professional support to cut down.

Withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Anxiety 

  • Being easily irritated 

  • Body aches

  • Increased heart rate

  • Negative changes to your mood

  • An increased blood pressure

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The law around xylazine

Xylazine is a Class C drug, which means it's illegal to be found carrying or using it. The legal term for this is possession. The maximum sentence for possession of a Class C drug is up to two years in prison, a fine or both. 

It’s also illegal to give away or sell xylazine. This is known as supply, and is a more serious offence than possession.  It can be considered supply if you give your friend some or share some with them, and this could get you time in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Looking for support?

If you’re concerned about your drug use, or if you’re worried about someone you know, we’re WithYou. We provide free, confidential and non-judgemental support and advice. Please don’t hesitate to reach out: