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By: Joseph Lee (SMA)

Substance use can have devastating effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, relationships, and their overall quality of life. As a result, individuals should pay close attention to substances in their environment to keep themselves well-informed. Recently, a veterinary sedative known as Xylazine (or “tranq dope”) has been spreading rapidly into the toxic drug supply within Canada. Xylazine is often mixed with other substances, such as heroin, to create a dangerously potent substance that can be highly addictive and have severe consequences. Some of these observed symptoms include a range of physical and psychological symptoms (like respiratory depression, heart problems, seizures, anxiety, and depression). Additionally, repeated use of Xylazine has been linked to other health problems such as skin ulcers or abscesses.

In Canada, research has demonstrated that Xylazine is frequently mixed with illicit opioids such as fentanyl and heroin. This combination prolongs its pleasurable effects but is also a major cause of overdose fatalities, especially in conjunction with other substances like cocaine, benzodiazepines, alcohol, gabapentin, methadone, and prescription opioids. Additionally, Xylazine’s potency due to combination with other substances causes users to experience severe side effects, notably “blackout states.” A blackout state is a dangerous form of consciousness where a user will have significantly reduced spatial awareness but is awake and with no recollection of events unfolding afterward. This makes them significantly prone to dangerous events, such as walking into oncoming traffic unknowingly.

In Canada, Xylazine’s growth has been felt particularly in the last couple of years. As the substance has entered the country’s toxic drug supply, Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service noted that Xylazine’s supply has grown from five samples in 2018 to 1350 in 2022 (as found by substances that were apprehended by the Canadian Border Services Agency).

One of Xylazine’s most potent health effects is its ability to be resistant to Naloxone. Because Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer and not an opioid, Naloxone does not respond to the substance. This makes Xylazine’s spread more concerning and incredibly dangerous for those who may suffer an overdose from using, as it becomes difficult to revive those who are suffering. As a result, the need to address Xylazine as a substance use and mental health concern is critical. Counselling therapy is a critical component of addiction recovery, and individuals struggling with substance use disorders often require a comprehensive approach that includes medical detoxification, behavioural therapy, and ongoing support to achieve and maintain sobriety. Additionally, counselling can help individuals explore the underlying issues that may have contributed to their substance use, develop healthy methods of coping, and identify strategies for relapse prevention.

We encourage you to reach out to us. We at Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan (CIRP) would want to be there for you in your journey toward recovery. We are a treatment program that has been in business for over 35 years providing care to the construction industry. We provide counselling services for you and your family members.  You can reach out to us at 604-521-8611. We are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.  Looking forward to providing you with the help you require.