Scientific article
Publication Date
Published by / Citation
Spadaro, Anthony MD, MPH; O'Connor, Karen MS; Lakamana, Sahithi MS; Sarker, Abeed PhD; Wightman, Rachel MD; Love, Jennifer S. MD; Perrone, Jeanmarie MD. Self-reported Xylazine Experiences: A Mixed-methods Study of Reddit Subscribers. Journal of Addiction Medicine ():10.1097/ADM.0000000000001216, August 10, 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001216
Original Language


United States
natural language processing

Self-reported Xylazine Experiences: A Mixed-methods Study of Reddit Subscribers



Xylazine is an α2-agonist increasingly prevalent in the illicit drug supply. Our objectives were to curate information about xylazine through social media from people who use drugs (PWUDs). Specifically, we sought to answer the following: (1) What are the demographics of Reddit subscribers reporting exposure to xylazine? (2) Is xylazine a desired additive? And (3) what adverse effects of xylazine are PWUDs experiencing?


Natural language processing (NLP) was used to identify mentions of “xylazine” from posts by Reddit subscribers who also posted on drug-related subreddits. Posts were qualitatively evaluated for xylazine-related themes. A survey was developed to gather additional information about the Reddit subscribers. This survey was posted on subreddits that were identified by NLP to contain xylazine-related discussions from March 2022 to October 2022.


Seventy-six posts were extracted via NLP from 765,616 posts by 16,131 Reddit subscribers (January 2018 to August 2021). People on Reddit described xylazine as an unwanted adulterant in their opioid supply. Sixty-one participants completed the survey. Of those who disclosed their location, 25 of 50 participants (50%) reported locations in the Northeastern United States. The most common route of xylazine use was intranasal use (57%). Thirty-one of 59 (53%) reported experiencing xylazine withdrawal. Frequent adverse events reported were prolonged sedation (81%) and increased skin wounds (43%).


Among respondents on these Reddit forums, xylazine seems to be an unwanted adulterant. People who use drugs may be experiencing adverse effects such as prolonged sedation and xylazine withdrawal. This seemed to be more common in the Northeast.

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