- Xylazine (ZAI-luh-zeen), also known as “tranq,” is a sedative found in a rising number of accidental opioid overdoses in Maine.
- Additives like xylazine are increasing in Maine’s drug supply. It is important to know how to reduce harms and how to respond in the case of accidental overdose.
What is xylazine?
Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer that is used for veterinary surgery. It is not approved for use in humans. It is most often mixed with fentanyl, but it has also been found in stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine.
Xylazine in Maine
The number of overdoses that involve xylazine has been rising over the past couple of years. In 2022, 46 fatal overdoses from fentanyl in Maine also included xylazine.
Xylazine can increase the risk of an overdose. For any suspected opioid overdose, give naloxone and call 9-1-1. Though xylazine itself is not an opioid, it is still possible that opioids are in the person’s system. So use naloxone and get emergency medical care immediately.
Naloxone is easy to use. It will not hurt a person if they do not have opioids in their body. It is common for people to continue to be sleepy after getting naloxone if xylazine is in their body. The most important thing is that they begin breathing again and get medical attention.
Skin infections and serious wounds
Xylazine can cause severe skin ulcers and wounds. These infections can appear anywhere on the body. They may need medical attention, like antibiotics or other treatment. Syringe Service Programs are an important resource for people who use drugs. Many offer wound care. They can also supply naloxone, sterile products, referrals to medical care and substance use treatment, education on safer use, and sharps disposal. Your local OPTIONS Liaison can also connect you to resources for medical care and safer substance use.
Xylazine Basics: Overdose Prevention, Harm Reduction, and Wound Care – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
What You Should Know About Xylazine – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)