In our ongoing commitment to fostering a safe and informed recovery environment, we address a growing concern that has surfaced in our community – the dangers of xylazine. At WakeUp Carolina, our mission is to empower individuals on their recovery journey, and part of that empowerment involves being aware of potential threats.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the dangers of xylazine, its impact on medication-assisted treatment, and share a recent development – the availability of xylazine testing strips through WakeUp Carolina.

Understanding Xylazine

Xylazine is a veterinary sedative commonly used for large animals such as horses and cattle. Unfortunately, it has found its way into the illicit drug supply and poses serious risks to individuals already navigating the complexities of substance use disorder.

The Dangers of Xylazine

  • Potent Respiratory Depressant: Xylazine is a central nervous system depressant that slows down vital functions like heart rate and respiratory activity. When combined with opioids or other substances, it can intensify respiratory depression, increasing the risk of overdose.
  • Necrosis: Users who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation.
  • Limited Reversal Agents: Unlike many opioids, xylazine has limited reversal agents, making it challenging for medical professionals to counteract its effects in emergencies. Narcan cannot reverse a xylazine-related overdose; however, we strongly encourage administering Narcan when an overdose has occurred regardless. No harm can happen.
  • Complications in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): For individuals undergoing Medication-Assisted Treatment, such as methadone or buprenorphine, the presence of xylazine in illicit drugs can complicate the recovery process. The interaction between xylazine and MAT medications may undermine the effectiveness of treatment and increase the risk of adverse reactions.

Testing Strips as a Harm Reduction Tool

Recognizing the urgency of this issue, WakeUp Carolina is pleased to announce the availability of xylazine testing strips. These testing strips can be a valuable harm reduction tool, allowing individuals to check for the presence of xylazine in their substances before use. This empowers our community members to make informed decisions about their health and safety.

Community Action and Support

  • Education and Awareness: Stay informed about the dangers of xylazine and its potential impact on recovery. Share this knowledge within our community to raise awareness and protect one another.
  • Utilize Testing Strips: If you or someone you know is using substances, consider using xylazine testing strips. These strips can provide an added layer of protection by identifying the presence of xylazine.
  • Reach Out for Support: If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, WakeUp Carolina is here to offer support, resources, and a compassionate community. Reach out for assistance on your recovery journey.

As we confront the dangers of xylazine, let us stand united in our commitment to a safe and supportive recovery environment. WakeUp Carolina is dedicated to providing the tools and resources necessary for informed decision-making, and introducing xylazine testing strips is a step toward empowering our community. Together, we can navigate the complexities of recovery with resilience, compassion, and a shared commitment to well-being.



  • American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT). (2017). Xylazine Exposure in the United States: Poison Center Cases Involving Veterinary Medications. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 13(3), 194-198.
  • Hedegaard, H., Miniño, A. M., & Warner, M. (2021). Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2020. NCHS Data Brief, No. 500. National Center for Health Statistics.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2021). Benzodiazepines and Opioids. Retrieved from
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