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The Fentanyl and Xylazine Epidemic: Get the Facts

Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer used to sedate medium to large animals, is an increasing threat to opioid users. Fentanyl, in particular, has recently begun to be sold with xylazine. Marketed as “tranq dope,” the drug leaves the user heavily sedated, often hunched over in place. Tranq dope has been found in over one in ten fentanyl overdoses, adding to the mess of the fentanyl epidemic.

Xylazine Is Still Emerging As A Threat

Last month, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), fentanyl with xylazine as an emerging threat to the United States.

Xylazine is a non-opioid tranquilizer approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for veterinary use only; it has never had clinical trials for humans and can have serious side effects, such as ulcerations, that can happen anywhere in the body.

“As a physician, I am deeply troubled about the devastating impact of the fentanyl-xylazine combination, and as President Biden’s drug policy advisor, I am immensely concerned about what this threat means for the Nation,” said Dr. Gupta in a press release. “That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration is using this designation authority for the first time since it passed Congress in 2018. By declaring xylazine combined with fentanyl as an emerging threat, we are being proactive in our approach to save lives and creating new tools for public health and public safety officials and communities across the Nation. To parents, loved ones, community leaders, and those affected by xylazine use: I want you to know that help is on the way.”

Xylazine and Fentanyl: What Does Tranq Dope Do?

Xylazine combined with fentanyl is called “tranq dope” on the street. The drug is incredibly sedating, and for many fentanyl users, it feels like it lengthens and intensifies the high. However, they are also in more danger of overdose.

Because it isn’t made for humans, there is no such thing as a “safe dose.” The drug itself is manufactured in illicit labs, likely in China. Because the drug isn’t regulated, dosages vary, and sometimes even have additional adulterants.

Tranq Dope Is Becoming More Common

It has existed as a street drug in the United States for almost five years but has been relatively uncommon. According to the DEA, xylazine-related overdose deaths increased by 1,127% in the Southern US and became more common in other regions. Even Arkansas has seen eight xylazine-related overdoses this year.

Dangers of Xylazine and Fentanyl

Humans that use tranq dope are in danger of potentially lethal side effects. It acts on the central nervous system, causing sedation and respiratory depression. In humans, it can lead to extreme sedation, loss of consciousness, and even respiratory arrest, which can be life-threatening.

Since xylazine dosages are designed for animals, a safe and effective dose for humans is unknown. Accidental or intentional overdoses can result in severe toxicity. It may induce a range of side effects, such as dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, and memory impairment, which can be distressing and potentially harmful. Combined with fentanyl, a person may appear comatose or zombielike; the sedation levels are quite deep.

Xylazine causes large, ugly sores in its users. Many users describe waking up with sores the day after using them; they are large and deep, not where the drug is injected.

Both drugs are central nervous system depressants. They are very dangerous to use together because they can stop you from breathing. Each also has highly addictive properties and can cause intense withdrawal symptoms.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or somebody you love is addicted to fentanyl, xylazine, or any other substance, we're here to help. We offer a healing environment where you can detox and recover from substance use disorders and begin to reclaim your life; give us a call at (949) 279-1376 or Mexico: (612) 153-5726 to learn more about programs.



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.