"Zombie drug" covers the USA: Xylazine leads to amputations - no antidote in sight
Created: 01/10/2023 05:00
By: Linus Prien
New Yorkers call for action against wave of overdose deaths (symbol image).
© Erik McGregor/IMAGO
It is the next drug to hit America after heroin and fentanyl.
Xylazine is cheap and has tremendous side effects.
It's said to be even harder to get off the drug than fentanyl.
New York - There is a huge drug problem in the United States.
As reported by the American
National Public Radio
(NPR), more than 110,000 people in the United States died from overdoses in 2022 alone.
It is often an overdose of fentanyl or other drugs to which fentanyl has been added.
However, according to new reports, the US could now be hit even harder.
A new drug called xylazine, colloquially known as "tranq" or "zombie drug," appears to be spreading rapidly in parts of the country, the
New York Times
The damage the drug wreaks on its users is devastating.
New "zombie drug" in the USA: Xylazine overdoses are increasing rapidly
A study shows how quickly the new zombie drug is spreading: from 2010 to 2015, xylazine was only involved in two percent of overdose deaths in Philadelphia, as reported by
In 2019 it was already 31 percent.
And that's not all: In Kensington, one of Philadelphia's problem areas, 90 percent of the drug samples tested in the laboratory contained xylazine.
The substance was also found in 25 percent of the samples in New York.
The number of unreported cases could be considerably larger.
But how is it that this drug is apparently taking over the market so quickly and what is the "zombie drug" anyway?
Tranq is a veterinary anesthetic developed in 1962.
Its major "advantage" over heroin and fentanyl is its price.
According to the
New York Times
, a bag of heroin costs ten dollars - Tranq is said to cost just half that.
New "zombie drug" in the US: Tranq leads to amputations
However, xylazine is not called a zombie drug for nothing.
On the one hand, after consumption, painful wounds appear at the injection site and other parts of the body, which appear to be chemical burns.
The wounds burn, ooze and, if left untreated, can begin to rot, ultimately leading to amputation, the
New York Times
In addition, consuming Tranq often results in unconsciousness lasting hours.
Addicts cannot defend themselves against all kinds of threats to which they are exposed.
However, the rush wears off after regaining consciousness and the craving for a new fix has long been there.
New "zombie drug" in the US: Tranq is difficult to treat
The medical treatment of Tranq users in the USA is just as bad.
Xylazine is not an opioid, but "only" a narcotic.
Opioid overdoses can be counteracted with the opioid antagonist naxolone.
However, this does not apply to overdoses of Tranq.
As if that weren't enough, withdrawal from xylazine is also said to be harder than from opioids, leading to more relapses.
At present, no medical protocol for handling is said to exist.