Animal tranquilizer ‘Xylazine’ worsening the Fentanyl overdose crisis

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Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer which is extremely dangerous to humans is now been adding to other illicit drugs by traffickers worsening the opioid crisis.

When mixed with fentanyl it is called Tranq Dope, which as other dangerous side effects like necrotic skin ulcerations and even death.

Medical experts here in the Northland say they fear cases may continue to raise. But first I asked Dr. Robert Cole Pueringer, a medical toxicologist with Essentia health on what Xylazine is.

“Xylazine is a veterinary tranquilizer and it’s been used recently in the past decade or so as an additive and drugs of abuse, specifically fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine.”

Why are people mixing this dangerious drugs together?

“Additives are added for a couple of reasons. One, they can make the effects, say, euphoria more pronounced and make the effects of the drugs more pronounced. They can make it cheaper so that if they add additive that causes sedation, they can make this a lot cheaper than if they just use fentanyl.”

The Executive Director, Harm Reduction Sisters, Sue Purchase says “I don’t think it’s necessarily like somebody intentionally trying to poison people. I think that there’s a lot of ignorance.”

What are causes and effects of Xylazine in the human body?

Dr. Robert
“it causes is sedation. It causes sleepiness or somnolence when added to other drugs, say fentanyl. It’s just what fentanyl is known to cause respiratory depression and someone in some CNS depression or stimulants as well. It makes the somnolence and sleepiness more profound. They have also been associated with necrotic skin wounds”

Sue Purchase added that “In doing the work that I do, in doing mobile syringe services. People would talk about the dope and the amount of naloxone it took to bring somebody back. As a country, we don’t know. And understand drug use.”

Most importantly, how can we revers the effect of Xylazine?

Dr. Robert “Unfortunately, there’s no test strips, there is no antidote so it’s going to be supportive care. Basically they’re sleepy. They have to let it get out of their system. The lesions cannot be reversed. If someone stops the injections, then the lesions don’t happen anymore. In veterinary medicine they have things they use to revers Xylazine but we don’t have any evidence that those work in humans.”