Xylazine Increasingly Found in Opioid Overdose Deaths

Xylazine or Tranq, is increasingly found in opioid overdose deaths - New Life Medical Addiction Services

The number of drug overdose deaths involving a powerful animal tranquilizer called xylazine, or tranq, has skyrocketed in recent years. This is the conclusion of two new federal reports. These reports also revealed that men were more likely to be using opioids that contain xylazine and to die from an opioid overdose than women.

The percentage of fatal opioid overdoses in which xylazine was detected rose by 276%, from 2.9% to 10.9% between January 2019 through June 2022, according to new reporting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” is a potent animal sedative that is not meant for human consumption. Tranq can put people into a state of semi-consciousness or unconsciousness for hours, increasing the risk of robbery or assault for many users due to their incapacitation. Physiologically, xylazine can slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure in dangerous ways.

With chronic use, tranq causes dramatic, disfiguring wounds, usually on a person’s legs or arms. The research is not clear why this happens, and it can occur regardless of whether the drug was injected, smoked or snorted.

Tranq is increasingly found laced into the supply of fentanyl, which is an illegal and very potent synthetic opioid which is blamed for 70,601 overdose deaths in 2021, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned about a growing threat from the drug combination, often called “tranq dope,” indicating that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had seized xylazine laced fentanyl in 48 of 50 states.

These new reports arrive at the same time that drug deaths in the U.S. continue their dramatic rise. A 2022 study by the CDC determined that the U.S. had experienced a 30% increase in deadly drug overdoses from 2019 to 2020. This is the largest such increase ever recorded and most of those deaths were attributed to illicit fentanyl.

Since 2018, the rate of overdose deaths that involved xylazine has increased significantly, especially among men. In 2021, it is estimated that xylazine  was a factor in 3,468 deaths, 73% of them being men.

During each of those years, men had more than double the rates than women. Nearly all overdoses also had evidence of fentanyl. And most of the overdoses, potentially up to 91.1%, were unintentional.

Tranq Wounds
Tranq wounds are extremely difficult to treat. With frequent use there is a lot of tissue loss, and a crater can form where skin used to be. These craters are easily infected, and these Infections can move into the bone or the bloodstream with the result that frequent amputations are sometimes necessary.

Does Narcan work on tranq overdoses?
Naloxone, an emergency lifesaving medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses quickly, is ineffective against xylazine because it is not an opioid. Nevertheless, addiction experts stress that naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, should always be given in case of any kind of overdose, regardless of whether tranq is also used, because naloxone is extremely effective in reversing the effects of fentanyl. The goal of administering naloxone is to restore normal breathing while emergency responders are on their way.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing drug or alcohol misuse, call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.

Call Now