Molecular model of xylazine.
5

Can you overdose on xylazine?

People often overdose on xylazine when it’s combined with potent opioids or sedatives.

Yes, you can overdose on xylazine.

People often overdose on xylazine when it’s combined with fentanyl or other potent opioids or sedatives. Xylazine is a central nervous system depressant that depresses breathing. Those effects combined with an opioid can stop someone’s breathing and cause an overdose. Drugs in the underground market are not labeled and tested. This means people may accidentally consume high doses of xylazine without their knowledge, putting them at risk of overdose. The risk of a xylazine overdose is higher if consumed with other opioids or depressant drugs, like fentanyl, alcohol, benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers.

Xylazine overdoses cannot be reversed by naloxone. But you should still administer naloxone and monitor breathing.

Since it is not an opioid drug, xylazine does not respond to naloxone. However, it is still important to administer naloxone to anyone who is overdosing because most xylazine is mixed with opioid drugs and the opioids may respond to the naloxone. When responding to a xylazine-involved overdose, it is important to make sure the person is breathing and to place them in the recovery position, so they do not hurt themselves. If the person does not take at least 10 breaths a minute, it is important to call 911 for help and to administer rescue breaths until help arrives.

Read this helpful fact sheet by the National Harm Reduction Coalition for more information.


We need a health approach to xylazine.

Due to drug prohibition, xylazine is increasingly part of our drug supply. Learn more about how drug decriminalization and investing in health, overdose prevention centers, and safer supply can keep people safer.

Reviewed and updated by Jules Netherland, PhD, and Dr. Sheila P. Vakharia on 05/20/2023.

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