Cenikor Sees First Case of Xylazine in Houston

Houston, TX, January 3, 2023—In a significant development, health authorities in the Houston area, in collaboration with the Cenikor Foundation, have identified the first case of xylazine admitted to Cenikor’s Deer Park facility. Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer that is mixed with fentanyl and other illicit drugs, has presented itself as a serious health threat, particularly in the context of the opioid epidemic.

The affected individual, who will remain anonymous to respect privacy, was identified and referred to a local emergency room last month. The medical team at Cenikor acted quickly to diagnose the individual in distress during the admissions process who did not respond to Narcan, which reverses an opioid overdose. Cenikor is now warning the public of this new threat, as it places users at an even higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning.

“The opioid crisis continues to become deadlier with the addition of xylazine to an already lethal drug, fentanyl. Now that it has made its way to the south, we need to do everything we can to give individuals the tools they need to get help,” said Bill Bailey, President and CEO of Cenikor. “We want those using illicit substances to know there is help and hope available. We can get them into treatment and help them to stop using opioids.”

Key points

Immediate health risks

Xylazine is associated with severe health risks, including respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, and central nervous system depression.

It causes severe skin wounds regardless of routine use. For this reason, xylazine has been nicknamed the “zombie drug.”


Routine toxicology screens do not detect xylazine, but test strips have recently become available. Cenikor urges healthcare facilities to acquire these to accurately screen for xylazine.

Naloxone ineffectiveness

It is crucial to note that, unlike opioids, xylazine cannot be reversed with naloxone. However, naloxone should still be administered since xylazine is usually combined and used with opioids.

First responders have reported that rescue breaths are especially helpful for people who have used xylazine since the drug causes breathing to slow.

Community outreach

Cenikor is launching a community outreach campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of xylazine use. Educational materials will be distributed in the coming weeks to ensure healthcare professionals and first responders are well-informed about the risks associated with this substance.

Medication-assisted treatment

Cenikor can provide clients with medication-assisted treatment, in some instances free of charge with federal funding. Since xylazine is commonly mixed with fentanyl and other opioids, this is the most effective, FDA-approved treatment method.

Next Steps

Cenikor is working in collaboration with public health authorities to monitor the situation closely, provide support to affected officials, and implement preventive measures.

For further information or media inquiries, please contact Maddie Profilet, Marketing and Media Relations Director, via email at If you or someone you know is seeking treatment for substance use disorder, call Cenikor today at 1-888-236-4567 or visit

About Cenikor

Cenikor is a leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive substance use disorder treatment, committed to delivering evidence-based care, promoting recovery, and supporting individuals in their journey to lasting sobriety since 1967. With a team of dedicated healthcare professionals, Cenikor offers a range of services, including detoxification, residential treatment, outpatient programs, and aftercare support.

By combining clinical expertise with compassion and personalized care, Cenikor strives to empower individuals and families affected by addiction and foster sustainable recovery. More than 300,000 lives have been changed in the process.


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