As the country grapples with a massive addiction crisis, a new dangerous drug mix, referred to as “tranq,” is spreading across the United States.
The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has found tranq — a blend of the artificial painkiller fentanyl and the animal sedative xylazine — in 48 states. The DEA recently issued a grave warning about the possibility of overdoses and serious skin ulcers from the drug, which could result in amputations.
Naloxone Doesn’t Work on Tranq ODs
Unfortunately, the usual treatment for fentanyl overdose, a medicine called naloxone, doesn’t work on tranq. This means that more people who use tranq are dying from it. Adam Leventhal, director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science, emphasized that this drug is a serious threat that needs a powerful response.
According to Leventhal, some people who are addicted to fentanyl may not realize that xylazine is being added to their supply. This combination of fentanyl and xylazine results in a unique kind of high that also increases the risk of overdose.
Increase in Xylazine Related Overdose Deaths in Franklin County
This deadly drug mix is present in Franklin County. We spoke to District Attorney Matt Fogal, who explained that the drug first appeared in toxicology results late last year. This year it has been detected in three cases so far.
Fogal said, “We first saw Xylazine in fatal overdose toxicology results late last year, in December. So far in 2023, of our 13 fatal overdoses to date as of 5/19, we have detected Xylazine in 3 cases. Those of us in law enforcement are fully aware of the continued rise in the presence of Xylazine, particularly in the greater Philadelphia region, where some travel to purchase their drugs. As always, we are focused and steadfast in our work with partners in the Franklin County Overdose Task Force collaborative and our law enforcement agencies outside of Franklin County, in order to detect, identify and thwart these types of trends.”
Research shows that teenagers are especially vulnerable to the effects of potent drugs like fentanyl and xylazine, as their bodies and minds are still developing.
Identifying Xylazine Use
Individuals under the influence of xylazine may display altered behavior. They might appear dazed, disoriented, or exhibit extreme lethargy. Xylazine can induce a “zombie-like” state, leading to a dissociative and detached demeanor.
Xylazine can cause various physical symptoms that may be indicative of its use. These symptoms include drowsiness, sedation, slowed reflexes, reduced coordination, muscle relaxation, lowered heart rate, and lowered blood pressure.