The New Deadly Duo
The most lethal drug in the nation, fentanyl, is becoming even riskier. In more and more cases across the country, the opioid is being combined with xylazine, a potent tranquilizer that the Food and Drug Administration uses for animals like horses. Tranquilizers have been used to cut a variety of drugs so dealers could increase their supply and profit. For a while, the world of drugs was in uproar over the elephant tranquilizer Carfentanil. More recently, xylazine, another tranquilizer, has been found in drugs, yet xylazine has not been approved for human use. Terms like "tranq," "tranq dope," and "zombie drug" are used to describe it.
Most of the fentanyl being trafficked in communities across the United States is primarily produced by the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel in Mexico, using chemicals mainly sourced from China. The US Drug Enforcement Administration reported last week it had found xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 out of 50 states and that there had been a "sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine." A new congressional bill that would add xylazine to the DEA's list of controlled substances has been introduced, and the FDA has promised to crack down on drug imports. An already dangerous drug crisis is made even more treacherous by Xylazine.
Xylazine causes severe wounds that spread and deteriorate quickly, which is concerning. Regardless of how the drug is used, these wounds can still happen. These wounds have been observed in individuals who smoke, snort, or inject drugs, and it is imperative to seek medical attention because it is very challenging for these wounds to heal on their own. Even worse, if the wounds are left untreated, a dead tissue known as eschar that is scaly and painful can lead to amputation.
Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid. Due to its 50 to 100 times greater potency than morphine, fentanyl is primarily used in medicine to treat cancer patients and people who have recently undergone grueling surgical procedures. Fentanyl addiction is becoming the deadliest drug threat our nation has ever faced and is becoming even more lethal thanks to xylazine.
According to the DEA Laboratory System, in 2022, xylazine was present in about 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills that the DEA had seized. Users of drugs that combine xylazine and fentanyl are more likely to experience fatal drug poisoning. Because xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone (Narcan) does not reverse its effects. But if someone appears to be experiencing drug poisoning, medical professionals always advise giving them naloxone. The drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is used to counteract or lessen the effects of opioids. It is used to combat breathing problems brought on by opioid overdose.
When administered intravenously, effects start to take effect after two minutes. It can take five minutes if an injection is given into a muscle. The medication can also be sprayed directly into the nose of the patient. For 30 to 90 minutes, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids. Some opioids have longer half-lives than naloxone, so multiple doses may be necessary.
Xylazine and fentanyl are destroying people and adding to the overdose rates. Because it is so new, there are many unknowns about the effects of using it. If you or a loved one are using drugs and suspect xylazine is laced in them, don't wait; get help before it's too late.
- The horrific rise of xylazine, the flesh-destroying drug making fentanyl even deadlier | Drugs | The Guardian