Zombie drug 'tranq' sending US down another dark path
Tranq, an emerging street drug with devastating effects, is sending the United States down a path darker than its predecessors due to various factors.
Heroin was once at the helm of the drug empire, holding the reigns of the opioid epidemic in the United States before it was replaced by fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is much easier to produce, a lot cheaper, and much more potent. However, fentanyl seems to be falling out of favor as the market is dominated by tranq, a flesh-eating drug that turns its users into what could best be described as mindless zombies roaming the streets unaware of their surroundings.
One addict who identified as Martin told AFP how he saw fentanyl replacing heroin as New York's drug of choice, but today, he is trying to avoid the drug known as tranq, an animal tranquilizer whose effects are devastating the US population.
Xylazine, whose street name is short for a tranquilizer, is said to cause holes in the user's body, as was evident with Martin, whose wounds on his legs and arms indicate that he may have used the detrimental substance.
The drug, which has been approved for veterinary use by the US Food and Drug Administration, infiltrated the country's diverse drug market as producers upped its usage to augment fentanyl.
Tranq-related overdose deaths have been on the increase in recent years, with the White House designating it as an emerging threat in April.
Its potency is surreal and it is highly accessible, with almost anyone being able to get it off the internet. Coupled with fentanyl nearly all the time, the opioid is around 50 times more potent than heroin.
The potency comes at a cost, however, as users would need to calibrate the amount they would abuse, but instead, they use as much as they would heroin, leading to their death. The emergence of the drug raise the number of fatal overdoses in the United States to nearly 110,000 in 2022, a record-high for the country hit by opioid epidemic after opioid epidemic.
The drug is notorious for how little it needs to induce an overdose.
A lethal dose of heroin, i.e., enough of the substance to kill an average-sized adult male, is around 30 milligrams, while for fentanyl it is about 3 milligrams, a stark difference.
Meanwhile, xylazine-related overdoses rose from 260 in 2018 to 3,480 in 2021, showing a dangerous trend for the drug
New York City authorities say traces of xylazine were found in 19 percent of fatal opioid overdoses, around 419 deaths, in 2021.
Health experts suspect that xylazine causes abscesses and skin ulcers by tightening blood vessels, and in some cases, it could lead to amputation.
The number of fatal overdoses in New York soared more than 80 percent between 2019 and 2021 to 2,668 deaths, largely due to fentanyl as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, which isolated users and hampered relief efforts. African-American and Hispanic communities were the most impacted.
Between 2019 and 2021, the number of fatal overdoses in New York increased by more than 80%, reaching 2,668 deaths. Fentanyl and the Covid-19 pandemic, which isolated users and delayed relief operations, were largely to blame. The most affected communities were those that were Hispanic and African-American.
Both the city and drug-prevention associations are focusing on naloxone, a nasal spray antidote that reverses an opioid overdose. However, one major aspect of tranq is that it is not an opioid, so naloxone does not reverse its effects.
Leonardo Dominguez Gomez, a field researcher with New York's health department, said it is still possible to avoid xylazine because it hasn't proliferated through the market.
However, there are countless videos online showing how the populations of New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are being hit hard by the emerging zombie epidemic.
Social media users were prompted by the sights seen in the streets of the United States to criticize the government for prioritizing military spending instead of combating the domestic crises the country is imbued in.