BOSTON — The new warning from the DEA over “the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced” follows escalating concerns in Massachusetts about the dangerous animal tranquilizer.
Boston 25 News first told you about xylazine, also known as “tranq” and “the zombie drug”, back in September.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued an alert Monday warning of a “sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine”.
The anesthetic that’s approved for veterinary use with large animals is not an opioid.
That means Narcan, a crucial tool in saving lives in the opioid epidemic, cannot reverse its effects.
The latest data from a state-funded collaborative tracking program in Massachusetts shows that about a third of New England’s illegal drug supply is laced with xylazine.
“Everybody’s dropping like flies,” said Will Reavis, of Boston. “I know quite a few people that most likely passed away because of this new stuff. It’s just going to get worse. More people are going to die.”
Boston 25 News spoke with several people who believe recent overdoses involving people they know are linked to the animal tranquilizer.
“I have a few friends that are now six feet under because of the issue,” said one woman. “It’s scary to think about it. I’m about to cry… a horse tranquilizer should not be on the streets. It’s like rat poisoning.”
Public health experts believe people are taking xylazine both unknowingly and intentionally.
That’s because some people report that it lengthens the euphoric effects of fentanyl.
“It’s put my life in danger,” said Patricia McGrath, of Boston. “When I woke up, it was like a shock. A sense of something I can’t explain.”
Repeated xylazine use is associated with skin ulcers and severe wounds including the rotting of human tissue, which can lead to amputation.
Just last month, the FDA said it took action to prevent xylazine from entering the U.S. market for illicit purposes.
The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that - in 2022 - approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.
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