DEA warns about increase in fentanyl seizures containing xylazine

Xylazine’s increasing presence in the fentanyl supply is making the deadliest drug threat in U.S. history even deadlier, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram. Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer not approved for human use, but it’s showing up in the illicit drug supply.

According to new data from the DEA, 30% of the fentanyl powder seized by the DEA in 2023 contained xylazine, up from 25% in 2022.

Because xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone (Narcan) does not reverse its effects.

In April 2023, Emily’s Hope reported that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) designated the combination of fentanyl and xylazine as an emerging drug threat.

“Indicating people who ingest fentanyl mixed with xylazine are at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning,” Milgram said.

Xylazine is nicknamed the “zombie drug” due to its horrific side effects, which include skin rotting, open sores, and a disoriented gait. The excessive drowsiness caused by the drug can give users a zombie-like appearance, and it can even cause skin to rot down to the bone.