Fentanyl and Xylazine Addiction

Find out the dangers of fentanyl and xylazine addiction and how Vista Taos can help you or your loved one recover.


Since 2016, illicitly manufactured fentanyl has been the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S. In 98.4% of overdose deaths linked to xylazine, fentanyl was also found.1 This has raised a lot of concern for health authorities recently.

xylazine addiction

Important Note About Xylazine Addiction Treatment

It’s important to state that a holistic approach is recommended for addiction treatment. This is true whether it’s fentanyl or xylazine addiction.

A holistic approach recognizes that addiction is not solely a physical dependence. But, it also encompasses psychological, emotional, and social dimensions.

Why a Holistic Approach?

A holistic approach aims to heal the individual as a whole, promoting lasting recovery and reducing the risk of relapse.

It does so by addressing the underlying factors contributing to xylazine addiction, such as:
  • Trauma
  • Mental health issues
  • Unresolved emotions

What is Xylazine?

Xylazine is classified as a veterinary sedative and analgesic agent. It’s primarily used in veterinary medicine to sedate and immobilize animals. This is for procedures like surgeries and diagnostic tests. Xylazine is not approved for human use.

How It Works

Xylazine belongs to a class of drugs known as alpha-2 adrenergic agonists. It affects the central nervous system, producing sedative effects.

Though originally intended for animal use, there is an alarming increase in its illicit use in humans. This has led to fears over xylazine addiction and its effects, especially within certain communities.2

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid. Opioids are often used for pain management, particularly in cases of severe or chronic pain. Fentanyl is significantly more powerful than other opioids like morphine. This makes it a valuable medication in certain conditions.3

How It Works

Fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. It reduces pain sensations and produces feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

This powerful effect makes it appealing to people seeking a potent high. But, the strength of fentanyl also increases the risk of overdose and addiction. Fentanyl is classified as a controlled substance and is strictly regulated.

Comparing Fentanyl and Xylazine: Two Powerful Substances with Different Uses and Risks

Fentanyl and xylazine are both potent substances. But, they come with distinct uses and associated risks. It is crucial to understand their differences. This is to ensure proper use and reduce potential harm.

Medical Uses for Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid analgesic for managing severe pain, particularly in surgical procedures. It is available in various forms, including patches, injections, and lozenges.

Medical Uses for Xylazine

Xylazine, on the other hand, is commonly used in animals; the substance is never prescribed for humans.

The drug is very effective in large animals like horses, cattle, and deer. It allows veterinarians to perform procedures safely and efficiently.

Fentanyl Mechanism of Action

Fentanyl acts on the opioid receptors of the central nervous system. It produces potent pain relief and induces sedation and euphoria.

Xylazine Mechanism of Action

Xylazine also affects specific receptors in the central nervous system. Its sedative and analgesic effects are due to its action on these receptors.

Fentanyl Risks and Side Effects

Fentanyl carries a high risk of overdose and respiratory depression. Improper or non-medical use of fentanyl is very dangerous. It can lead to addiction, respiratory failure, and even death.

Xylazine Risks and Side Effects

Xylazine is safe and effective as a veterinary medicine. Its misuse in humans can be extremely dangerous. Profound sedation, respiratory depression, and cardiovascular effects are some of its adverse reactions.

Fentanyl Misuse and Addiction

Fentanyl has garnered significant attention for its misuse in illicit drug markets. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is often mixed with other substances like xylazine. This leads to a higher risk of overdose and fatalities.

Xylazine Misuse and Addiction

Xylazine is also being misused outside of controlled settings. Its sedative properties make it attractive for people seeking that effect. Others use it as an adulterant to enhance the potency of other substances.4
Understanding these distinctions is crucial for appropriate and responsible use. This can reduce the potential for fentanyl or xylazine addiction.

Addictive Potential of Fentanyl and Xylazine: Understanding the Risks

Fentanyl and xylazine differ in their addictive potential and risks for substance dependence. Let’s explore the addictive properties of each substance individually:


Fentanyl is a very potent opioid analgesic, and it has a significant risk of addiction. By binding to opioid receptors in the brain, it produces pleasurable effects. This increases the potential for misuse and dependence.
Prolonged or misuse of fentanyl can result in physical and psychological dependence. It also leads to high tolerance, where one needs higher doses to achieve the desired effects.
The addictive nature of fentanyl is a serious concern. It can lead to severe substance use disorder. This causes detrimental effects on a person’s health and well-being.


Xylazine does not have the same addictive potential as opioids like fentanyl. As a veterinary sedative, it does not produce the euphoric effects of opioids.
But, it’s important to note that xylazine can still be abused. This is especially true when used recreationally or in combination with fentanyl. This can lead to xylazine addiction.

Scope of Use in the U.S. for Each Substance

The scope of use for substances like fentanyl and xylazine can change over time and may vary across different regions in the U.S.

Fentanyl Scope of Use

Fentanyl is a controlled substance. This means it’s only approved for certain medical operations. For years, fentanyl has been a significant concern in the U.S.
This is due to its involvement in several opioid-related overdose deaths.5 Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is the biggest culprit in overdose deaths.

Xylazine Scope of Use

Xylazine is not approved for human use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is sold as an animal tranquilizer. Recently, there have been fatal cases of xylazine abuse in humans, especially in combination with fentanyl.6 Its use in this context is a concern for public health authorities.

What Demographics Are Vulnerable to Fentanyl and Xylazine Addiction?

Fentanyl and xylazine addiction can affect people from many demographics and populations. But, certain groups may be more vulnerable to developing substance use disorder and addiction.
This vulnerability can vary based on several factors. They include geographical location, socioeconomic factors, and other variables. Below are some demographics and populations that may be at a higher risk.

People with a History of Substance Abuse

Prior substance abuse may raise the risk of fentanyl or xylazine addiction. This includes a history of abuse of opioids or other drugs.

People with Chronic Pain

Those who rely on opioids for pain relief may have an increased risk of developing addiction.

People with a History of Mental Health Issues

Mental health conditions heighten vulnerability to substance abuse as a self-medication or coping mechanism. This may include people with PTSD, depression, or anxiety.

Adolescents and Young Adults

Younger people may be more susceptible to experimentation and peer influence. This can increase their vulnerability to substance abuse, including xylazine addiction.

People in Certain Professions

Healthcare providers or veterinary workers may have easier access to these substances. This potentially increases the risk of xylazine addiction.

People in Areas Affected by the Opioid Crisis

High opioid addiction regions face increased fentanyl risk. This is due to mixing or substitution for other opioids.
Other factors also play a role in determining vulnerability to addiction. This includes genetic predisposition, environmental influences, and individual circumstances.7
Seeking professional help and support is essential for people who may be at risk or those already struggling with fentanyl or xylazine addiction.

Symptoms of Use for Fentanyl and Xylazine

Symptoms of fentanyl and xylazine addiction can vary based on several factors. This may include:
  • The person
  • The dosage taken
  • The method of consumption
Below are some common symptoms associated with the use of each substance.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Use

Below are some common symptoms of fentanyl use:
  • Temporary Euphoria: Fentanyl can induce intense feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This is the major reason for its misuse.
  • Drowsiness: Users may experience extreme drowsiness or lethargy after taking fentanyl.
  • Respiratory Depression: Fentanyl is a potent opioid and can slow down breathing. This can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression.
  • Constricted Pupils: Users’ pupils may appear significantly smaller (pinpoint pupils).
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Fentanyl use can cause nausea and vomiting. This is more common in new or inexperienced users.
  • Constipation: Opioids like fentanyl often lead to constipation as a side effect.
  • Confusion or Disorientation: Users may experience cognitive impairments and confusion.
  • Itching or Rash: Some people may develop itchiness or a rash after use.

Symptoms of Xylazine Use

Below are some common symptoms of xylazine use:
  • Sedation: As an animal tranquilizer, it can lead to profound sedation and drowsiness in humans.
  • Dizziness: Individuals may feel lightheaded or dizzy after consuming xylazine.
  • Muscle Weakness: Xylazine can cause a significant decrease in muscle strength and coordination.
  • Slurred Speech: Speech may become slurred or difficult to understand.
  • Hypotension: Xylazine can lower blood pressure, leading to feelings of faintness or weakness.
  • Difficulty Walking: Users may have trouble walking steadily or maintaining balance.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Xylazine use can lead to gastrointestinal distress. And vomiting in some individuals.
  • Respiratory Depression: Like fentanyl, xylazine can also suppress breathing. This may lead to respiratory problems which can be dangerous.
It’s crucial to recognize that the misuse of fentanyl and xylazine is very dangerous. It can lead to life-threatening consequences. If you suspect someone is using either of these substances, seek immediate professional help.

Dangers of Fentanyl and Xylazine Addiction

Fentanyl or xylazine use poses significant dangers and risks to users. Below are some of the dangers associated with the use of these substances.

Dangers of Fentanyl Use

Below are some of the dangers of fentanyl use.


Fentanyl is a very potent opioid, and even small amounts can result in an overdose. Overdosing on fentanyl can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death.


Fentanyl is highly addictive. Regular use can lead to dependence and addiction. Breaking the cycle of fentanyl addiction can be challenging. It takes professional help.

Increased Tolerance

Prolonged use of fentanyl can result in increased tolerance. This requires people to take higher doses to get the desired effects. This increases the risk of overdose.

Mixing with Other Substances

Combining fentanyl with other drugs or alcohol increases the risk of overdose. This can have unpredictable and dangerous effects on the body.

Health Complications

Fentanyl use can cause various health complications. This includes:
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Liver damage
  • Compromised immune function
  • Overdose and potential fatality

Dangers of Xylazine Addiction

Some of the dangers of xylazine addiction include:
  • Sedation and Loss of Consciousness: Xylazine is a potent sedative. Excessive use can lead to profound sedation, loss of consciousness, and even coma.
  • Respiratory Depression: Xylazine addiction can cause significant respiratory depression. This leads to breathing difficulties and potentially fatal consequences.
  • Impaired Motor Function: Xylazine can impair motor coordination. It can make tasks such as driving or operating machinery very dangerous.
  • Cardiac Effects: Xylazine can have negative effects on the cardiovascular system. This includes changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and rhythm.
  • Mixing with Other Substances: Mixing xylazine with depressants like opioids or alcohol intensifies sedation. This heightens overdose and adverse reaction risks.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some people may experience allergic reactions to xylazine. This might range from mild rashes to severe anaphylaxis.
  • Overdose: Due to the substance’s potency, xylazine has the potential for overdose, which can lead to death.

Key Factors Contributing to the Rise in Fentanyl and Xylazine Cases

We can attribute the rise in fentanyl and xylazine addiction cases to several key factors:

Increased Availability

There are illicitly manufactured and diverted fentanyl and xylazine. These are accessible through:
  • Illegal markets
  • Online sources
  • Counterfeit prescriptions
This drives their widespread use and addiction.


Fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid, estimated to be 100 times stronger than morphine. Its potency increases the risk of addiction. Although primarily a veterinary medication, xylazine enters illicit markets for its powerful sedative properties.

Combination with Other Substances

Fentanyl and xylazine are often combined with heroin or cocaine. This is to enhance their effects or to create counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
This practice significantly increases the risk of overdose and addiction. According to research, xylazine was detected in 31% of fatal fentanyl/heroin overdose cases in 2019.8

Prescription Opioid Misuse

The misuse and overprescribing of prescription opioids contribute to the rise in fentanyl addiction cases. Some people who initially develop an addiction to prescription opioids may transition to using fentanyl due to its availability and potency.

Opioid Substitution

Fentanyl is sometimes used as a substitute for prescription opioids or heroin. People seeking opioids may unknowingly encounter fentanyl, leading to addiction and overdose risks.

Lack of Awareness and Education

Many people may be unaware of the risks associated with fentanyl or xylazine addiction. There is insufficient education on the potency, potential for addiction, and overdose risks. This contributes to the increasing number of addiction cases.

Socioeconomic Factors

Socioeconomic factors contribute to the rise in addiction cases. This includes:
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Limited access to healthcare and addiction treatment services
People facing these problems may turn to fentanyl and xylazine as a coping mechanism.

Importance of Addressing These Factors

It is important to address these key factors to effectively combat the rise in fentanyl and xylazine addiction cases.
This includes:
  • Implementing comprehensive prevention strategies
  • Increasing access to addiction treatment and support services
  • Improving education and awareness efforts
  • Addressing the underlying socioeconomic factors that contribute to substance misuse
xylazine addiction

How Vista Taos Can Help

At Vista Taos Renewal Center, we provide a comprehensive range of treatment opportunities for people struggling with xylazine addiction or other substance abuse.
Our programs address the unique needs of each person. We aim to support their journey toward recovery. Here are some of the treatment opportunities we offer:

Residential Treatment

Our residential treatment program provides a safe and supportive environment. Our therapeutically rich environment allows people to focus on their renewal journey. Our clients stay on-site and participate in various therapeutic activities.
They include:
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • Educational workshops

Medical Detoxification

We offer a personalized 6-10 day medical detoxification program. This is vital for people in need of detoxification from fentanyl and xylazine addiction.

Our experienced medical team provides personalized care and support throughout this time. We manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure a safe and comfortable detoxification process.

Whole-Person Approach

Many people with substance use disorders also experience co-occurring mental health disorders. Our dual-diagnosis treatment program addresses both addiction and underlying mental health conditions. We achieve this through integrated therapy and psychiatric care.

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling sessions with licensed therapists allow clients to explore underlying issues. develop coping skills, and work on personalized treatment goals. These one-on-one sessions provide a confidential and supportive space for clients. to address their specific needs.

Group Therapy

Our group therapy sessions offer a supportive community where people can connect with peers going through similar experiences.

These sessions provide opportunities for:
  • Sharing
  • Learning from others struggling with xylazine addiction
  • Building a strong support network

Holistic Therapies

We incorporate a variety of holistic therapies to promote well-being and address the mind-body-spirit connection. These may include:
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage therapy
  • Mindfulness practices

Aftercare Planning

Successful recovery extends beyond the treatment program. We help clients develop a comprehensive aftercare plan. This includes referrals to:

This is to ensure ongoing support and relapse prevention.

Contact Vista Taos Today

At Vista Taos, we’re committed to providing compassionate, evidence-based, holistic treatment that addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of addiction. We offer this in a beautiful and natural New Mexico environment.

Our dedicated team of professionals is here to guide and support patients on their path to lasting recovery and renewal. Reach out to us today to learn more about getting help for xylazine addiction.

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Ready to Renew Your Life and Well-Being?

Reach out to Vista Taos Renewal Center today and let us guide you toward sustainable recovery. We will help you heal from the addictions and substance use challenges that hinder you from leading your most fulfilled life through personalized, whole-person treatment.