As Drug Testing Kits UK, has recently been informing companies: "the flesh-rotting 'zombie drug' xylazine, has been wreaking havoc in the US. Now it’s in the UK. A toxicology report showed that a middle-aged man from Solihull, England, died from the effects of xylazine, heroin, and fentanyl. And to add to this already devastating trend, heroin supplies are now commonly adulterated with the strong synthetic opioid fentanyl, and the animal tranquillizer xylazine, in order to reduce the cost of producing large batches of heroin [1]

Did You Know?

Xylazine, also known by its street names "tranq" or "tranq dope" (when combined with fentanyl and heroine), is used in veterinary medicine for the purpose of sedating animals, muscle relaxation, and pain relief. However, and very importantly, xylazine is not approved for humans. "When xylazine is injected, it can cause open wounds such as skin ulcers and abscesses to form. With long-term use, these lesions can become widespread across the arms and legs causing tissue death, hence its nickname: the zombie drug" [1].

The Low-Down

Fentanyl and xylazine both generate psychoactive properties which add to the impact that users experience. Of note, the drug fentanyl is short-acting, however, when it is combined with the zombie drug, xylazine, the user experiences extended feelings of euphoria (similar to heroin). When it comes to employees abusing illegal drugs, many of them will not be unaware that the heroin is 'cut' (adulterated), by being mixed with these other substances, and this can result in unintended side-effects [which can have a terrible impact on their capacity to work, and handle machinery, etc.,]. Moreover, in some cases, users can overdose [1].

What the UK Government Says About Xylazine

"The National Program on Substance Abuse Deaths reported the first death associated with xylazine in the UK (from May 2022). Xylazine, a UK-approved veterinary medicine for large animals, is not approved for use in humans by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency nor controlled under the 1971 Act. It is, however, likely to be subject to the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (the 2016 Act)" [2].

The First Discovery of Xylazine in the UK

This zombie drug was not recorded in the UK, until the death of a 43-year-old drug addict, who had a long history of illicit drug abuse. When the post-mortem was carried out, there was no evidence of death caused by natural disease in the major organ systems. However, a number of illegal drugs were detected in his post-mortem toxicology report: eight in both his urine and blood, and three more just present in his urine. The death certificate showed that the man died from a lethal combination of xylazine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Moreover, the evidence suggested that this combination of extremely dangerous drugs, had been injected. When a well known toxicologist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Dr Alexander Lawson, conducted an analysis of the subject's urine and blood samples, he noted an abnormal peak in the original test results; this was later identified as xylazine [1].

Deaths in the UK

It is thought that other deaths in the UK, which could be attributed to xylazine, have not been detected. This is because this particular drug has not yet been included in the government's standard toxicology drug screening tests. To that end, its identification was down to the attentiveness and expertise of Dr Lawson and his associates [1].

The Clear & Present Danger & the Need to Conduct Regular On-Site Drug Tests

Subsequent to Dr Lawson's report, submissions to the voluntary drug testing service Wedinos, has uncovered xylazine in drug samples of THC (the active compound in cannabis), benzodiazepines (e.g.,Valium), and opioids [all of which are screened for in Drug Testing Kits UK's non-invasive, workplace, CE approved, saliva and urine tests.

The Heroin Shortage Revving Up 'Tranq Dope' Sales

Now that Afghanistan is under Taliban rule, a large percentage of its poppy fields have been destroyed, thereby reducing the availability of heroin, and thus shifting the UK's heroin supply back to its central and Southern American origins; and creating the UK market for highly dangerous synthetic versions of opioids.  Of note: As you would expect, our super simple-to-use, Drug Testing Kit UK's winning leading-edge workplace CE-approved on-site saliva (oral fluid) and urine tests, include screening for heroin. These include our (25, 50 and 100 kit packages) of economy cases of Drug Testing Kits UK's Health Science Specialist-approved:

Urine Multi-Drug Testing Kits

10 Panel Urine Drug Test Cup

12 Panel ECO Size Urine Test Cup with Adulterant Test Strips

13 Panel Standard Size Urine Test Cup with Adulterant Test Strips

Saliva Multi-Drug Testing Kits

6 Panel + Alcohol Saliva Drug Test

10 Panel + Alcohol Saliva Drug Test  (This particular kit offers the added bonus of simultaneously screening for alcohol, thus making the process even more economic)

Contact Drug Testing Kits UK's FREE Professional CX and Advice Service

Please do not hesitate to contact Drug Testing Kits UK's, highly experienced, friendly team, who are always ready to help both our new, and our countless thousands of existing clients across the length and breath of the UK and Southern Ireland. Ensuring that your company/organisation, has the right types of on-site, non-invasive, CE-approved, drug and alcohol testing kits at your disposal; and being able to purchase them at competitive prices in economy cases, will make all the difference!

Xylazine Effects: What Workplace Managers Should Look Out For

There are a number of symptoms and effects that can sometimes be spotted on members of staff who could be taking the street drug, xylazine. These include:

  • Drowsiness

  • Dry mouth

  • Hypertension

  • Tachycardia followed by hypotension and bradycardia

  • Hyperglycemia

  • Reduced heart rate

  • Hypothermia

  • Respiratory depression

  • Dysrhythmia [3]


[1]. Copeland, C. (2023). "Tranq: first UK death from the flesh-rotting ‘zombie drug’ xylazine." The Conversation.

[2]. Gov.UK (2023). "Advice on Xylazine and 2-Methyl-AP-237."

[3]. DEA (2022). "The Growing Threat of Xylazine and its Mixture with Illicit Drugs " Growing Threat of Xylazine and its Mixture with Illicit Drugs.pdf