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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

What is xylazine? White House launches national response plan for combating drug deaths

The Biden administration released a national response plan Tuesday to address the emerging threat of fentanyl combined with xylazine in the U.S. 

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) plan coordinates a whole-of-government response against the threat. 

The drug has been detected in nearly every state in the country and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have continued to show an increase in xylazine-related overdose deaths. 

The monthly percentage of illegally manufactured fentanyl-involved deaths with xylazine detected increased 276% from January 2019 through June 2022.

Also known as “Tranq,” xylazine is a central nervous system depressant and powerful sedative. 

It can cause drowsiness and amnesia, and slow breathing, heart rate and blood pressure to dangerously low levels.

Repeated xylazine use is also associated with skin ulcers, abscesses and related complications.

People report using xylazine or xylazine-containing drugs by injecting, snorting, swallowing or inhaling.

Studies have shown that people exposed to xylazine, often knowingly or unknowingly, used it in combination with other drugs – particularly illicit fentanyl.

Anne Milgram

Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram arrives to a meeting with the representatives of six European countries to fight against cocaine trafficking, in Antwerp, Belgium, on June 5, 2023. (John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

In the event of a suspected xylazine overdose, experts recommend giving the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone because xylazine is frequently combined with opioids. 

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