Xylazine is a dangerous drug that can cause addiction, overdose, and death. Anyone who has been abusing it should seek professional care immediately. With proper treatment, people who have become addicted to this substance can complete xylazine withdrawal and establish a foundation for successful recovery.
What Is Xylazine?
Xylazine is a powerful tranquilizer that is used as an animal sedative and anesthetic. It is not intended for human consumption, nor has it been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in any medical procedures that involve human patients.
Xylazine is not an opioid, but its effects are similar. Xylazine use can numb pain and induce a sense of euphoric relaxation. It can also cause dry mouth, drowsiness, slowed heart rate, and shallow breathing.
When xylazine is used for legal veterinary purposes, it is administered in liquid form. Illicit xylazine may be sold as either a liquid or a white powder. People who abuse the drug may do so by swallowing, snorting, or injecting it.
Many public health experts and law enforcement organizations have expressed concern about rising rates of xylazine use throughout the nation. In October 2022, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) highlighted the problem in a joint intelligence report titled The Growing Threat of Xylazine and its Mixture with Illicit Drugs.
In that publication, the DEA noted that authorities first became aware of illicit xylazine abuse in the U.S. in 2000, when laboratory tests detected the substance in illegal drugs that were being sold in Puerto Rico. Through the ensuing decades, the abuse of xylazine has increased, both as a standalone recreational substance and as an adulterant that is added to heroin, fentanyl, benzodiazepines, and other drugs.
Xylazine abuse has not yet reached epidemic proportions in the United States, but it has begun to increase dramatically in certain areas.
Dangers of Xylazine Abuse
The media has not been shy about calling attention to the potential dangers of xylazine:
- The headline over a Jan 7, 2023, article in the New York Times said that xylazine is bringing “fresh horror to U.S. drug zones.”
- A Jan. 24 USA Today headline described xylazine as “a new threat in the opioid epidemic.”
- On Feb. 16, a San Francisco Chronicle headline referred to xylazine as “a horrific new street drug.”
News headlines have a long history of hyperbole – but in the case of xylazine, they may not be overstating the risks that this drug poses.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that between 2015 and 2020 the percentage of annual drug overdose deaths that involved xylazine in the state of Pennsylvania rose from 2% to 26%. NIDA data also indicates that xylazine was a contributing factor in 10% of overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2020 and 19% of overdose deaths in Maryland in 2021.
Another significant danger of xylazine abuse is that naloxone does not seem to be effective at reversing the effects of overdose. Naloxone has saved countless people who would have otherwise died from opioid overdoses. But if someone has been abusing xylazine along with an opioid, naloxone administration may be an insufficient response.
Also, the DEA’s October 2022 joint intelligence report noted that soft tissue injuries that lead to necrotic tissue and an elevated risk of amputation appear to be more common among people who inject xylazine than among those who inject heroin or other drugs.
Clearly, there are many reasons to avoid xylazine abuse. But for people who have already become addicted, the intensity of xylazine withdrawal can make it difficult to stop using this dangerous drug.
Xylazine Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal is one of the classic signs of addiction. When someone becomes addicted to xylazine, their body will begin to adapt to the presence of this substance. When the individual abruptly stops using xylazine, their body will respond with a variety of distressing physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Xylazine withdrawal may be complicated by the fact that many people who become addicted to this drug also have a history of abusing heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids. Thus, common xylazine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Intense drug cravings
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Chest pain
- Powerful headaches
- Muscle aches
- Excessive perspiration
- Fever and chills
Xylazine Addiction Treatment Options in Atlanta, GA
Completing the xylazine withdrawal process is an important step toward successful recovery. But it is just one of many steps that a person may need to take.
Once a person has rid their body of xylazine, they need to learn how to live a drug-free life. This may involve learning new skills, developing relapse-prevention strategies, and making important lifestyle changes. Professional treatment can help them accomplish these goals and achieve any additional personal objectives that they have established for themselves.
Treatment for xylazine addiction may occur at several levels of care, including partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and traditional outpatient programs.
The development of a person’s customized treatment plan can be influenced by a variety of individual factors, including their age and treatment history, how long they have been addicted to xylazine, and if they have any co-occurring mental health concerns.
Depending on these factors – plus taking into account which level of care a person is in – their treatment team may provide the following therapies:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Red light therapy
- Holistic therapies
Begin Treatment for Xylazine Addiction in Atlanta, GA
Peachtree Recovery Solutions provides customized care and close personal support to adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area who have become addicted to xylazine and other drugs. At our center, patients work in active collaboration with a team of skilled and experienced professionals. Untreated xylazine addiction can be devasting – but with our help, your life can get much better. Visit our contact page or call us today to learn more.