There’s a new drug in town (and all over the country) called “Tranq” on the street. Known formally in the medical field as xylazine, the drug is commonly used in veterinary medicine as a sedative or anesthetic for horses and other large animals.
It is not approved for use in humans, but Tranq has been showing up as an additive in numerous street drugs, adding more “bang for the buck” to base drugs like meth, fentanyl and heroin. It’s also killing people.
Tranq is sometimes called the “zombie drug”– for good reason
Tranq has been nicknamed the “zombie drug” on the streets because regular users can develop peeling skin and open sores on their bodies, making them resemble fictional zombies. In some cases, users have sores that go so deep that their skin and muscle tissue can necrotize, leading to amputations or death from infections. But that’s not the only thing that makes Tranq so deadly. Unlike opioids like fentanyl and oxycontin, Tranq is a central nervous system depressant and a sedative – which means it doesn’t respond to emergency overdose medications, like Narcan.
Deaths associated with xylazine overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years. In 2015, only .3% of drug-related deaths were associated with Tranq, but that figure rose to 6.7% in 2020. Location, too, plays a role in how likely someone is to die from a Tranq overdose. For example, the drug is associated with 26% of drug-related deaths in Pennsylvania. Startling enough, while the drugs it is added to are definitely illegal, xylazine is not a controlled substance – yet. It’s believed that Ohio is the first state to take definitive action to reclassify the drug as a Schedule III controlled substance to try to limit access to the drug before more people die brutal deaths simply because they’re addicts.
Addiction can cause people to do things they never dreamed they were capable of doing, and it can easily lead to legal problems. If you’re facing drug charges of any kind, it may be time to learn more about the help that’s available.