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Xylazine spreads across the US: A growing component of the increasingly synthetic and polysubstance overdose crisis

Posted 3/16/2022 (updated 3/27/2024)

Background: Sharp exacerbations of the US overdose crisis are linked to polysubstance use of synthetic compounds. Xylazine is a veterinary tranquilizer, long noted in the street opioid supply of Puerto Rico, and more recently Philadelphia. Yet its national trends, geographic distribution, and health risks are poorly characterized. Methods: In this sequential mixed-methods study, xylazine was increasingly observed by ethnographers in Philadelphia among drug-sellers and people who inject drugs (PWID). Subsequently, we systematically searched for records describing xylazine-present overdose mortality across the US and assessed time trends and overlap with other drugs