Tranq Dope Horror – The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie Drug Gripping America

In recent years, a troubling trend has emerged in the United States with the arrival of a dangerous drug known as tranq dope. This lethal concoction combines fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, with xylazine, a powerful non-opioid tranquilizer used for sedating large animals. The drug’s devastating impact has raised significant concerns.  Read more here.

Scaly Skin and Rotting Wounds

In the early 2010s, reports of a nightmarish drug emerged in Russia and Eastern Europe. Krokodil, a cheap substitute for heroin produced in makeshift laboratories, caused users to develop scaly skin and rotting wounds.

Fast forward to today, and a similarly dangerous drug known as tranq dope, a mix of fentanyl and xylazine, has made its way to America.

Since 2019, deaths linked to tranq dope have nearly quadrupled, accounting for 11% of fentanyl-related deaths as of June 2022. The White House recently unveiled a plan to combat its spread, raising concerns about its impact.

Tranq dope combines fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, with xylazine, also called “tranq,” a potent non-opioid tranquilizer commonly used to sedate large animals like horses and deer.

$6 per Kilogram From Chinese Websites

Initially detected by drug authorities in the early 2000s in Puerto Rico, the drug has since circulated in limited areas within the American northeast, including Philadelphia.

However, it has now been found in nearly every U.S. state, and according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), local dealers likely mix it.

Xylazine can be purchased for as little as $6 per kilogram from Chinese websites, enabling illicit drug suppliers to maximize profits by diluting more expensive fentanyl, primarily supplied by Mexican drug cartels.

Many users may be unaware if they are consuming fentanyl or tranq dope. The assumption that fentanyl is free from xylazine is becoming riskier by the day.

Users Can Develop Deep, Necrotic Wounds in Which Skin and Muscle Decay

The DEA reported that nearly a quarter of American fentanyl powder contained xylazine in March. In Philadelphia in 2021, over 90% of fentanyl was mixed with xylazine.

Tranq dope’s effects on the body are cause for alarm. Though chemically distinct from krokodil, it similarly impacts the body. Users can develop deep, necrotic wounds in which skin and muscle decay.

These wounds are highly susceptible to infections; in severe cases, amputations may be necessary. Additionally, large doses can lead to loss of consciousness, making individuals more vulnerable to assault or theft.

Perhaps even more concerning is that Naloxone, the emergency treatment for a fentanyl overdose, is ineffective against non-opioids like xylazine.

Synthetic Opioids Continue To Claim More Lives Each Year

Naloxone operates on opioid receptors in the brain to reverse the effects of drugs like fentanyl, particularly suppressed breathing.

However, there are no approved antidotes for xylazine in humans. Someone overdosing on tranq dope may require more than Naloxone for survival, such as additional oxygen and respiratory support.

Despite the growing threat of tranq dope, addiction experts emphasize that synthetic opioids remain their primary concern.

Synthetic opioids continue to claim more lives each year, with around 70,000 deaths in 2021, surpassing the roughly 43,000 deaths in car accidents during the same period.

Imported Xylazine Is Legally Obtainable for Veterinary Purposes

However, individuals using tranq dope face a higher risk of fatal overdose. At the very least, the increasing presence of this drug complicates America’s ongoing battle against overdose deaths and further endangers drug users.

Authorities are taking this new challenge seriously. In February, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to inspect imported xylazine, which is legally obtainable for veterinary purposes, and detain suspicious shipments.

The Biden administration’s national plan aims to reduce tranq dope-related deaths by 15% in at least three of four American census areas by 2025.

Their strategy involves standardizing and increasing tranq testing, disrupting the illicit trade—potentially through new xylazine regulations—and seeking antidotes for xylazine.

The Zombie State of Philadelphia

Despite these efforts, the DEA remains concerned about the continued spread of tranq dope. In Puerto Rico, the drug is sought after for its prolonged high, and reports are suggesting a similar trend emerging in Philadelphia.

If more drug users start seeking out tranq dope, America could face an even grimmer and more complex drug-related problem.

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Source: Economist