Author: Charles Frank

Xylazine Tranq Dope: Effects, Addiction & Treatment

what is zylazine

See says there’s “a mountain of peer-reviewed evidence” to suggest that overdose prevention centers would make a difference in the opioid crisis, “but what’s important for Americans is American examples and American evidence”. The wounds can also become necrotic, and Kacinko said they can progress to cause soft tissue injury. But since tranq is often mixed in with opioids, first responders will give naloxone (Narcan) injections to reverse the opioid’s effects. Unlike mainstream opioids like fentanyl or heroin, there’s no simple antidote for tranq exposure and overdose. When humans overdose on tranq, reports show that the effects can last anywhere from 8 to 72 hours (3 days).

Dittmore said that the wounds can appear at injection sites, but also in other parts of the body, “most on the extremities” like legs and arms. Unlike abscesses, which are common with injected drugs, xylazine wounds will start out resembling blisters that then open and expand, leading to the risk of infection that Dittmore referenced and growing wider instead of deeper. People often aren’t buying xylazine deliberately, Dittmore said, making it riskier. Xylazine also cannot be detected with testing strips the way that fentanyl can be, so people don’t know if their drugs are contaminated with it — unless they have access to a costly mass spectrometers, which are typically found in medical settings. Xylazine is a central nervous system depressant, Dittmore said, which has a sedative effect and depresses breathing.

Experts spoke to CBS News about what trends they’re seeing now, what the risks of xylazine are and how people can help if they are bystanders to an overdose involving xylazine. This means if you’re admitted to the hospital, they’ll give you fluids through your veins (IV fluids) and saline eye irrigation. But laws around it are evolving and some states are tightening their laws around it. For example, New York passed a bill in 2017 designating xylazine as a controlled substance that is illegal to use or sell. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. These open wounds may lead to necrosis, or dead tissue, and eventually amputation of affected limbs, she said.

An effort to open an overdose prevention center in Philadelphia has the support of city officials, but remains stuck in a legal battle and faces opposition from neighbors. “Because of the sedation effect (of xylazine), it takes people a bit longer to rouse and become alert,” said Dittmore, who said she has reversed dozens of overdoses. “They don’t need to be eyes open, wide awake in order for the overdose to be reversed. You’re just trying to get that breathing to resume again.” “At this point, colleagues and I are trying to crowdsource together as much information as we can, because there’s just no organized network and this drug is so new,” said Claire Zagorski, a chemist, paramedic and translational scientist in Austin, Texas.

Drugs & Supplements

There is no amount of xylazine that is safe for humans, said Dr. Neeraj Chhabra, emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist at Cook County Health in Chicago. It’s most commonly used in cattle as it’s one of the few sedatives studied in food animals, said Dr. Bernd Driessen, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Here’s what to know about the animal tranquilizer and why health officials are rushing to stop its spread.

what is zylazine

Veterinarians regularly use it to tranquilize (sedate), relieve pain, or as a muscle relaxant for animals like dogs, cats, and horses. In recent years, xylazine has been found as an adulterant in drugs of abuse often sold on the streets, such as in heroin or fentanyl. Although many of its effects are similar to opioids, chemically it is not an opioid;  therefore, naloxone is not known to be effective in reversing the toxic effects of xylazine.

How do people use xylazine?

In animals, the drugs kick into effect in just a few minutes and can last up to 4 hours. It’s sold under the brand name Anased, Chanazine, Rompun, and Sedazine. Routine toxicology screens do not identify xylazine and it may be difficult to determine if it is involved in an overdose without additional, more advanced analytical measures like gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In addition, xylazine is rapidly removed from the body (half-life of 23 to 50 minutes), which may make detection even more difficult. In addition, it may interfere with the successful treatment of opioid use disorder (OU) and delay the management of an overdose. Death can occur in humans when used alone or as part of a multidrug overdose.

  1. James Latronica, an addiction medicine doctor and the public policy chair of the Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine, has been treating patients who have taken xylazine for years now.
  2. Zagorski said that people may also experience bedsores from resting on hard surfaces like concrete for hours at a time with no movement.
  3. Last week, the US Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert about a “sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine”, saying it had seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 out of 50 states.
  4. However, some people may knowingly abuse xylazine to help lengthen the euphoric effect (“high”) from fentanyl injections.
  5. In addition, it may interfere with the successful treatment of opioid use disorder (OU) and delay the management of an overdose.

In some states, around a quarter of those overdose deaths involved xylazine. It was first detected being used by humans in Puerto Rico in the early 2000s, said Kacinko, and has been reported in the United States for several years. The Drug Enforcement Administration said in March 2023 that nearly a quarter of powdered fentanyl tested by the agency’s labs in 2022 had xylazine mixed in. In June, Florida police said they had broken up a drug ring selling fentanyl and xylazine. Xylazine, commonly known as “tranq,” is a non-opioid sedative analgesic medication that’s largely mixed into (adulterated) and used as an additive with other opioid substances like heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine. Blending tranq helps to bulk up and boost or mimic the effects of these drugs.

Is there a treatment for xylazine overdose in humans?

While some users actively seek substances with xylazine, others are surprised by the adulterated supply. Intravenous injection is the most common route of administration for those who use heroin with xylazine recreationally. James Latronica, an addiction medicine doctor and the public policy chair of the Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine, has been treating patients who have taken xylazine for years now. “You have an unregulated, unknowable supply that can be cut with whatever is at hand,” and from a supplier’s perspective, “it’s likely that it’s simply cheaper than fentanyl”. Beyond administering naloxone, there are some steps bystanders can take to help people.

To keep breathing even, Zagorski and Dittmore said, bystanders can try rescue breathing, which is essentially providing mouth-to-mouth on the person who has overdosed. Both said that there is no risk of overdosing on xylazine, or any other drugs that a person may have taken, from taking these steps. One of the most alarming side harms, and one of the most-discussed, are the wounds that xylazine use can cause.

Tools as simple as fentanyl test strips are still banned in states like Florida and Texas over fears that they could encourage drug use. And overdose prevention centers remain deeply unpopular ideas in much of the country, where residents and politicians say they’ll enable addictions and increase crime. Xylazine adds multiple layers of complexity to an already treacherous drug crisis. It slows a person’s breathing and heart rate, and lowers their blood pressure.

What Is Tranq (Xylazine)?

Benitez said that he has seen lesions on the lungs of people who are smoking drugs tainted with xylazine. Now, as part of her work, Beddis runs a streetside wound care clinic that offers aid to people in need. Beddis said at urgent cares she would be diagnosed with a staph infection and be given antibiotics, which often wouldn’t work. Dittmore said that antibiotics aren’t the “first mode of treatment” because the wounds aren’t actually caused by an infection.

It is a tranquilizer, sedative and pain reliever that is FDA approved ONLY for use in animal medicine. In veterinary medicine, it is used as a component of diagnostic and surgical procedures in animals ranging from cats and dogs to horses and cattle. That’s in contrast to “war on drugs”-style policies that criminalize and punish people using substances.

As a matter of fact, tranq is now found in up to 15% of fentanyl tests. Naloxone should be given in response to any suspected drug overdose to reverse any possible opioid effects. Naloxone will not reverse the effects of xylazine.11 However, because xylazine is often used with opioids like fentanyl, naloxone should still be given.

Healthcare providers should continue to administer naloxone when they suspect an opioid overdose and consider that xylazine may be involved as a component of an overdose if the patient does not respond as expected. Yes, repeated exposure to xylazine may lead to dependence, addiction and withdrawal symptoms, which may include agitation, vision changes, disabling migraines or severe anxiety when doses are decreased or stopped. These side effects may lead to continued abuse and undermine any efforts to treat an ongoing opioid use disorder (OUD). However, some people may knowingly abuse xylazine to help lengthen the euphoric effect (“high”) from fentanyl injections. People who inject drugs are at a high risk for exposure to xylazine due to its increasing prevalence on the streets.

The easiest way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up your own personal medication records. Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. Xylazine is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for human use.