Most recently, a new drug has been making the rounds through the US. This time, it’s a cocktail of several substances, one of which is xylazine, commonly used in animal tranquilizers.
In response to a major surge in cases of overdosing on the so-called “tranq dope,” House Republicans have called on the FDA to ban the key component of it.
Just when we thought the crisis couldn’t get worse, they introduced tranq dope
One of the letters was directed to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by Indiana Representative Jim Banks, Texas Representative August Pfulger, and Florida Representative Kat Cammack.
The fentanyl supply is being cut even further with an animal tranquilizer known as xylazine, (street names: tranq, zombie drug) .
It causes horrific skin wounds to erupt, (reminiscent of Krokodil), and amputation may be necessary.
Also can’t be reversed with Narcan.
— Dr. Benjamin Braddock (@GraduatedBen) January 11, 2023
They claimed the agency’s response to the drug’s infiltration into our system is embarrassing at the very least, seeing as the drug’s already spread through 39 states.
In the letter, they added the outbreak of xylazine in the US should immediately be addressed and it’s the Biden administration’s responsibility to prevent the current misuse of the drug.
If the agency doesn’t crack down on the xylazine importation, the lawmakers assured legislation will be passed instead.
However, many experts in the field are concerned with the outcome that may follow the drug’s ban; the users may quickly shift to yet another synthetic drug, possibly one that’s much more dangerous than xylazine.
Tranq dope leaves wounds on a user’s skin, but alternatives that some have already been resorting to are significantly more dangerous; a ban could limit any research on xylazine’s side effects and how to treat addicts.
NY SURGE OF XYLAZINE MIXED IN FENTANYL, NONRESPONSIVE TO NARCAN: Fentanyl seized could kill 3x NY Population.
— America's Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) January 11, 2023
China continues export of fent-adjacent substances into the US
The real issue lies in the cocktail itself. Tranq dope is actually a concoction of both xylazine and fentanyl, two highly dangerous drugs that, when combined, result in tissue damage, with some users having their fingers and toes amputated.
On top of this, the mixture puts the user in a state where naloxone just doesn’t cut it anymore. While it still should be administered to those who overdosed on it, it’s not expected to be effective.
Due to it not yet being a controlled substance, most drug tests don’t detect it, making it virtually impossible for healthcare providers to know if a patient is abusing it or not.
Despite the spread, no one has been able to pinpoint where exactly the xylazine is being laced into fentanyl.
Let’s say Xylazine gets criminalized, dealers need to find another novel, but chemically structurally similar substance to replace it.
We can go through patent applications for research chemicals, medical literature, to figure out which the next new tranq/sedative may be.
— Brian Hackel 💉❤️ (@Brian_A_Hackel) January 18, 2023
Typically, the drug comes in a liquid form and is administered to animals, but some have found Chinese suppliers sell it in a powdered form online. The spike in purchases was traced back to the fentanyl ban that was imposed on the country in 2019.
This means all of Trump’s efforts to curb fentanyl imports in the US were futile. It still made its way through the southern border, whereas a key ingredient in a new opioid managed to sneak past customs.
However, the DEA scheduling xylazine won’t do much to fix things, as it’s found pre-mixed with other illegal substances.
The real solution is providing adequate funding for research and care for the users, but that’s not likely to be happening any time soon. See you in a couple of months when we’re in for yet another drug crisis once this one is banned.