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This “Zombie Drug” Is Spreading Very Quickly

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website, 107,375 persons overdosed on drugs in 2022, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl accounting for 67% of those deaths. While some opioid overdose deaths have historically involved combinations with other medications, a troubling new pattern has emerged. A horse tranquilizer by the name of Xylazine, often known as tranq or the zombie drug on the streets, is apparently being mixed with illegal substances including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and meth by dealers. Philadelphia has been overrun by it, and it is swiftly spreading to other major US cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In addition to intensifying the narcotic impact and extending the period of the high, the use of tranq repeatedly results in necrotic skin lesions at the injection sites as well as in the extremities as a whole. If left untreated, the severe wounds may potentially require amputation since they get black and crusty, smell like rotten meat, and are very painful.

Contrary to opioids and synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl), Narcan cannot treat overdoses on tranq. Tranq’s overdose symptoms resemble those of opioids, despite the fact that it shares more chemical similarities with the medication clonidine, which is used to treat anxiety, ADHD, and hypertension. While trying to save someone who has ingested both tranq and fentanyl, first responders might deliver repeated doses of Narcan, which would cause rapid withdrawal symptoms without completely removing tranq from the user’s system.

Xylazine was detected in more than 90% of Philadelphia’s drug samples. In addition, New York City discovered tranq in 25% of the drug samples it examined, according to a research published in October 2022 that showed Xylazine in drug supplies in 36 states and Washington, DC. In November 2022, the FDA sent physicians a warning. The only state to date to do so is Florida, which has designated Xylazine as a prohibited substance.

Shawn Westfahl, an outreach worker in Philadelphia’s hard-hit Kensington neighborhood, cautioned other towns, saying, “It’s too late for Philly,” but he wanted other cities would learn from them. Education, outreach, drug testing, and states independently adding Xylazine to control regimens are all potential aids.

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