Emerging Drug Threat - Xylazine

What is Xylazine?

Xylazine is a powerful veterinary tranquilizer that is being found mixed with the nation’s illicit fentanyl supply, contributing to a worsening of the fentanyl crisis. Xylazine does not respond to naloxone (i.e., Narcan) since it’s not an opioid and for this reason, xylazine-fentanyl mixtures are being associated with a rise in drug-related deaths nationally. Xylazine use is also linked to serious skin abscesses and skin ulcers. Xylazine is commonly referred to as “Tranq” on the streets.

While xylazine-fentanyl mixtures have been identified in the Houston Metropolitan Area, this threat has not become as prominent in the region as in other areas of the country. Fortunately, only a small proportion of seized pills and powders with fentanyl were found to contain xylazine in the Houston area in 2022.

Because the danger associated with the use of fentanyl-xylazine combinations is so high, important actions have been taken nationally in 2023 to combat this serious threat. 

In March of 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a public safety alert about the sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl-xylazine drug mixtures and the heightened risk of fatal drug poisonings associated with their use.

Public Safety Alert: DEA Reports Widespread Threat of Fentanyl Mixed with Xylazine
Drug Enforcement Administration, March 2023

In April of 2023, the Director of the Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) designated fentanyl adulterated with xylazine as a national emerging drug threat.

Biden-Harris Administration Designates Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine as an Emerging Threat to the United States
Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP), The White House, April 12, 2023

In July of 2023, the White House released the National Response Plan for Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine to address the growing threat. Its goal is to lower overdose deaths from the lethal combination by 15%. 

In Continued Response to Overdose Epidemic, the White House Releases National Response Plan to Address the Emerging Threat of Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), July 11, 2023

National Response Plan to Address the Emerging Threat of Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine


Fentanyl Adulterated or Associated with Xylazine Response Plan
White House, Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Strategy, July 2023

In September of 2023, the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Administration released a joint statement on sources of xylazine.

DEA and DHS Issue Joint Update on Sources of Illicit Xylazine
DEA Headquarters Division – Public Information Office, September 22, 2023

Click on the link below to learn more about xylazine.

The Growing Threat of Xylazine and its Mixture with Illicit Drugs
Drug Enforcement Administration, October 2022

Articles on Xylazine (Tranq) 

Community Groups, Medical Experts Work to Combat Emerging “Tranq” Drug Crisis
ABC News, July 28, 2023


Tranq Increasingly Found in Opioid Overdose Deaths, Two CDC Reports Show
NBC News, June 29, 2023



What You Should Know About Xylazine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)



Health Advisory: Xylazine in Illicit Drugs Increases Overdose Risks
Texas Health and Human Services Commission, March 21, 2023

Xylazine (“Tranq”): The Potential for Loss of Life and Limb
American Academy of Dermatology Association, December 7, 2022