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Understanding Xylazine: What Substance Abuse Clinics and Addiction Rehab Centers Need to Know

At Spectrum MDX, we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients are equipped with the latest information to address emerging drug trends. Health Canada released a report detailing the increasing presence of xylazine in illicit drug samples. This blog post aims to inform healthcare professionals about the crucial aspects of xylazine, its effects, and the necessary considerations for treating individuals who may be addicted to fentanyl and xylazine.

What is Xylazine? Xylazine is a non-narcotic analgesic drug commonly used in veterinary medicine for its sedative and muscle relaxant properties. However, it is not approved for human use in Canada. Despite this, xylazine has been increasingly detected in illicit drug samples, often in combination with other substances, including fentanyl.

Various drug paraphernalia including a spoon with white powder, a syringe, small bags of pills, and packets of powder on a black surface.

Key Findings from Health Canada’s Report:

  • Significant Increase in Xylazine Detections: The number of xylazine identifications in Canada jumped from five in 2018 to 205 in 2019. Between January 2012 and December 2022, xylazine was identified in 2,324 samples submitted for analysis.
  • Geographical Trends: Ontario saw the highest number of xylazine submissions, making up 75% of the samples in 2022. British Columbia and Alberta also reported significant detections.
  • Common Form and Co-Occurrences: Xylazine is frequently found in powder form and often mixed with other substances. Notably, 79% of samples contained two to four co-occurring substances, with fentanyl being the most common.

Health Risks and Symptoms of Xylazine:

Understanding the effects and risks associated with xylazine is crucial for effectively treating patients. Here are the primary symptoms and side effects:

  • Central Nervous System Depression: Xylazine induces sedation, muscle relaxation, analgesia, and anesthesia.
  • Respiratory Depression: One of the most significant risks, especially when combined with opioids like fentanyl, increasing the likelihood of overdose and fatality.
  • Cardiovascular Effects: Includes bradycardia (slow heart rate) and hypotension (low blood pressure).
  • Other Side Effects: Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and miosis (constriction of the pupils).

Treatment Considerations:

For healthcare providers treating patients who may have used xylazine, it is essential to be aware of the following:

  • Monitoring and Support: Patients should be closely monitored for signs of respiratory depression and cardiovascular issues. Supportive care, including oxygen and medications to stabilize heart rate and blood pressure, may be necessary.
  • Naloxone Administration: While naloxone can reverse opioid overdoses, it may not be effective against xylazine. However, it should still be administered in cases of suspected opioid-xylazine overdose.
  • Comprehensive Care: Due to the risk of multi-drug interactions, a comprehensive approach to treatment is crucial. This includes detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms, and providing psychological support.
Two people holding hands in a supportive and comforting manner.


The rise of xylazine in Canada’s illicit drug market presents new challenges for substance abuse clinics and addiction rehab centers. By staying informed and understanding the effects and treatment protocols for xylazine, healthcare providers can better support their patients and mitigate the risks associated with this emerging threat.

At Spectrum MDX, we are dedicated to providing the latest insights and solutions to tackle the challenges posed by emerging substances like fentanyl and xylazine. Our team is here to support substance abuse clinics and addiction rehab centers with cutting-edge information and resources.

To learn more about the risks and treatment protocols for fentanyl and xylazine, and to explore our range of custom-made testing cups designed for precision and reliability, reach out to us today. Together, we can enhance the safety and effectiveness of your treatment programs.

    Stay Informed: 🔗 Read the full report by Health Canada

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