As you may have recently seen in the news, xylazine is a dangerous drug that people are increasingly mixing with fentanyl. This widespread trend is making the illicit drug supply even more dangerous than it already is. It’s important to understand that xylazine can badly affect a person and their loved ones.
In this blog post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about this drug, including what it is, its dangers, and the addiction it causes.
What Is Xylazine?
Xylazine is a central nervous system depressant. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it is a powerful sedative with approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for veterinary use. As a veterinary tranquilizer, it gained the street nickname, “Tranq”, “tranq dope”, or “zombie drug.” It has no approval for human use.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram warned the American public about the increasing number of trafficking fentanyl mixed with xylazine. Xylazine and fentanyl mixtures were spotted in 48 out of 50 states. Based on the DEA Laboratory System report, about 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.
What Are the Dangers of the Veterinary Tranquilizer Xylazine?
In a statement, DEA administrator Milgram explained that fentanyl pills and fentanyl powder may be the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced and xylazine is making it even deadlier.
People usually use xylazine with other drugs. They can inject drug mixtures into their system, snort it as powder, swallow it through pills, or inhale its vapors, putting them at risk of xylazine poisoning.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 100,000 Americans died of drug poisonings between August 2021 and August 2022, and deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl were involved in approximately 66% of the time.
Side Effects from Xylazine
Aside from deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl mixed and laced with xylazine, research states that repeated use can complicate the human condition. Patients exposed to xylazine can develop abscesses and skin ulcers.
Other side effects include from xylazine intoxication include:
- Blurred Vision
- Central Nervous System Depression
- High Blood Sugar
- Impaired Judgment
- Pinpoint Pupils
- Respiratory Depression
- Slow Blood Pressure
- Slow Breathing
- Slow Heart Rate
- Slurred Speech
Necrosis or the rotting of human tissue and skin can also occur with repeated or chronic xylazine- exposure. This condition can lead to amputation.
Naloxone and Narcan Resistant
During a suspected xylazine overdose, experts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggest using opioid overdose reversal medication, specifically naloxone.
However, xylazine is not an opioid despite its heavy sedative and opioid-like effects. Thus, the antidote may not reverse its effects. Similarly, some experts fear xylazine’s increased presence could render naloxone less effective.
Quote from the New Your Post
Tranq, a veterinary drug, is Narcan-resistant, meaning its effects cannot be reversed in the event of an overdose.
How Does Xylazine Cause Addiction and Devastation?
Science Direct published a 2022 study that learned xylazine laced fentanyl enhances the euphoric effects that people experience. The drug mixtures also will lengthen a persons high.
According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), people can experience these heightened effects within minutes. Depending on the dosage and administration method (oral, intravenous, intranasal, or intramuscular), the effects can last over eight hours.
Abused drugs like xylazine produces euphoric effects and is attractive to some and can invite a person to use the drug again and again to chase the high. Repeated xylazine use will eventually develop into a drug addiction.
Xylazine in All States – National Drug Control Policy Director
Recently, the office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta announced that xylazine is now in all 50 states. As such, the White House is looking at the veterinary medicine as an emerging threat. Categorizing it as such will prompt authorities to develop federal plans to address its spread.
The Growing Problem of Xylazine
The FDA is taking action to stop illegal xylazine imports. Their initiative to restrict the unlawful entry of xylazine into the U.S. market aims to eliminate widespread threat of its use for the illicit drug supply. After all, animal health care providers legitimately use the medicine for sedating large animals, including horses and deer.
Xylazine Hitting the Northeast Especially Hard
According to the NIH, overdose deaths involving xylazine hit the hardest in the Northeast. In 2020, about 10% of all drug overdoses in Connecticut were linked to the drug. Meanwhile, in 2021, 19% of all drug overdoses in Maryland showed evidence of xylazine.
Researchers believe that Puerto Rico has included xylazine in its illicit drugs and opioid scheme since the early 2000s. It reached Philadelphia, where the initial signs began, in 2006. Xylazine then spread across the entire state of Pennsylvania. Overdose deaths linked to xylazine in the state jumped from 2% in 2015 to 26% in 2020. It all began with toxicology reports from a local city health department division, Substance Use Philly.
According to the program, over 90% of all drug samples tested in Philly contained xylazine in 2021. While there are no valid xylazine-detecting tools and tests, the health department obtained its data by using forensic toxicology lab equipment to test drug samples.
The Affect of Xylazine in Florida
In a 2022 WTSP-TV news report, forensics discovered xylazine in the systems of over 236 Floridians who died in 2021. Only one out of all these people did not test positive for other drugs usually associated with tranq dope, particularly fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, or heroin.
However, it is notable that these figures only reflect reported cases. Moreover, this data came from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, which did not ask medical examiners to report the presence of xylazine in 2021.
Florida already categorizes xylazine as a Schedule I drug, which means the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) determined it as a drug without any accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. As such, addiction remains a potential problem for Floridians as this drug continues to circulate.
Final Words: Turning Point of Tampa Treats Drug & Alcohol Addiction
Xylazine has recently made headlines as national health agencies cite its deadly effects, especially how it can exacerbate the effects of drugs that it laces. Although drug authorities are already taking action against the illegal entry of xylazine into the country, black markets continue to distribute it and increase the risk of drug addiction across the nation.
Xylazine is already in all 50 states, but Florida may be at a higher risk than others. In the event of an overdose, emergency medical services will be critical to a person’s survival.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to xylazine or are struggling to stop using, consider getting help from Turning Point of Tampa. Our drug rehabilitation center is dedicated to helping people get sober. Get in touch for more information.