Journalist Brooke Kato reports in the New York Post that Xylazineis wreaking havoc in major cities across the country with its devastating effects. Otherwise known as “Tranq,” it can literally rot the user’s skin.
The substance, which seemed to first appear in Philadelphia before migrating west to San Francisco and Los Angeles, was used for cutting heroin. Most recently, it has been discovered in fentanyl and other illicit drugs. While approved by the Food and Drug Administration for veterinary use, Xylazine, a non-opioid, is not safe for humans. Those who overdose on the drug do not respond to naloxone, or Narcan, the most common overdose reversal treatment.
Xylazine causes sedative-like symptoms, such as excessive sleepiness and respiratory depression. It also causes and inflames raw wounds that can become severe and spread rapidly with repeated exposure. The crusty ulcerations, which can become dead skin called eschar, can result in amputation if left untreated. Because it is not listed as a controlled substance for animals or humans, “tranq” lands in a confusing and horrifying gray area — and hospitals rarely test for it with routine toxicology screenings.
The city of Philadelphia reported that 90% of lab-tested dope samples from 2021 contained xylazine, which can increase the risk of overdose when combined with other illicit substances.
But the lethal combination of substances is what gives xylazine its appeal — the high of the opioid, such as fentanyl, is extended with the help of “tranq.” People with substance use disorders who get hooked on the zombifying drug believe the emerging substance killed “any kind of joy” that came with getting high. The worrying “tranq” trend comes as the New York City Department of Health reported that 2,668 New Yorkers died of overdoses in 2021. Experts warn that xylazine could worsen the ongoing drug epidemic.
According to a 2022 report, xylazine has been discovered in 36 states. In New York City alone, the drug was found in 25% of samples, per the Times. Earlier this month, the San Francisco Department of Health announced that low levels of xylazine were found in the systems of four people who overdosed, suggesting that the substance can be hidden in drugs unbeknownst to the users.
The pressures from life are real. Building careers, buying homes, getting married, having kids, and trying to do it all well comes with lots of pressure. COVID-19 has magnified the stress. Some turn to drugs to cope. However, just because some drugs are legal to possess doesn’t mean they are less dangerous.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.