Zombie skin-rotting drug takes over America’s streets as expert warns there is no cure to reverse overdose

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The skin-destroying drug commonly known as “Tranq” or “Tranq dope” has hit the streets of Philadelphia and is headed to California.

Health officials are concerned about its spread and the horrific wounds it inflicts on users.


Kensington became a destination for drug addicts and dealersAuthor: Getty
One person dies every five minutes from a drug overdose in the United States


One person dies every five minutes from a drug overdose in the United StatesAuthor: Getty

Tranq is a generic term for xylazine, an animal tranquilizer that is now most commonly combined with heroin or fentanyl.

Xylazine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an animal tranquilizer used by veterinarians, but is not safe for humans.

Tranq users have experienced untreated sores forming on their skin at injection sites that rot the surrounding skin and cause infection, sometimes leading to amputation.

The wounds turn into a crust of dead tissue called a scab, which, if left untreated, can cause people to lose limbs.

Some ex-addicts even said they saw people continuing to inject the drug into their stumps.

Xylazine killed a record 107,000 people in the US in 2021.

The US Sun spoke to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, about the additional dangers of this drug compared to Narcan.

Narcan or naloxone is the most commonly used rescue drug to reverse the effects of an overdose.

NIDA stated, “There is no medication to reverse a xylazine overdose.”

Philadelphia mayoral candidate David Oh told The US Sun, “We have a bad epidemic in Philadelphia.”

The Republican candidate added that the city, particularly Kensington, had become a “destination” for drug addicts and dealers.

Oh believes that the fact that there is no drug to treat a Tranq overdose will not deter addicts and dealers.

Death is a great seller, it makes money.”

David OCandidate for mayor of Philadelphia

In fact, he said, if addicts hear that someone has died, they will seek out that drug.

The lawyer and politician said: “Deadly drugs sell best… when addicts are high they are in heaven and when they are not high they are very miserable.

“Then they finally inject it again and it’s Shangri-La, it’s heaven.

“They wake up to a miserable life and a miserable world … so Narcan and saving a life is not what they’re looking for — death in heaven will make them happy.”

He added: “They live for the high … when they hear about a person who died, everything, they go for it.

“Death is a great seller, it makes money.”

NIDA said, “Reusing xylazine can also cause painful skin ulcers and abscessespotentially as a result of decreased skin oxygenation and vasoconstriction of blood vessels.

“Xylazine is one component of the current serious overdose epidemic, and we must work to make treatment for substance use disorders cheaper and easier to obtain than illicit drugs.”

The CDC confirmed that fentanyl was the leading cause of death in adults between the ages of 18 and 45.

Former White House drug policy adviser Professor Keith Humphreys told The US Sun: “The US population is several million people who are already addicted to opioids.

“This creates a lucrative market for drug dealers who sell mixtures of opioids with other drugs.”

Xylazine is believed to be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, making it Philadelphia’s number one drug.

Oh discussed the “killer competition” on the streets of Philadelphia as a place where rival drug dealers own different street corners and engage in “shootouts.”

The new drug sees “dealers killing each other because the business is very good and there is good money to be made,” he said.

In accordance with Center for Disease Control in 2021, one person will die every five minutes from a drug overdose in the US.

Unscrupulous dealers often cut the sedation of fentanyl or heroin to make it more profitable.

What is Xylazine?

Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer used by veterinarians on cows and horses and is now used to taper opioids such as heroin or fentanyl.

The drug is not safe for human consumption and is only approved for veterinary use.

People have been known to inject, sniff, swallow or inhale the drug.

Xylazine slows breathing and heart rate, causes drowsiness and incoordination, and can cause blue or grayish skin with rashes and sores.

The full extent of xylazine deaths in the US is unknown, but studies show that such deaths have spread to the west of the country and most severely affected the northeast.

Professor Humphreys added: “People often use opioids and tranquilizers together because they believe it will prolong their high or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

“Unfortunately, in combination, these drugs carry a higher risk of fatal overdose than either drug alone.”

While this reduction in withdrawal symptoms may be common with other drugs, tranq worsens withdrawal symptoms, making it more likely that people will continue their addiction.

When cut with fentanyl, xylazine packs a bigger punch, causing a semi-conscious state where people’s upper bodies hang over their legs outside and they move very slowly or not at all.

Hence the name “zombie drug”, but with a bigger hit comes a greater need for addicts to buy it.

The drug is sold on the street for just a few dollars and is often injected into the body.

Dealers will hold “free sample days to attract business”, Oh said, adding that the lack of law enforcement in Kensington “has caused a huge problem”.

Oh criticized current Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and his team for “abandoning the community” by phasing out police in Kensington.

In conversations with high and low-ranking police, they told Oh that when they go to Kensington to support the community, “they’re told not to arrest drug dealers or talk to drug addicts.”

He added: “Today, the police do not talk to drug addicts about giving up drugs, about connecting with mom and dad, about returning home, about a better future.

“They were told not to interact.”

“They wake up in a miserable life… so death in heaven will make them happy.”

David OCandidate for mayor of Philadelphia

One policeman told him that drug dealers know that the police cannot arrest them.

Liberal author Shane Claiborne expressed his concerns about Kensington with the mayor-hopeful despite the pair not seeing each other.

Oh said: “He was very worried because the drug gang on one corner had warned of shootouts on certain days and they would.

“They’re telling people, and it seems polite, but they’re also telling people, ‘If you tell the police, we’re going to come up behind you and shoot you in the back of the head.’

“People are trapped in this environment.”

He also talked about how the various options for addicts are not a product of “common sense.”

“There are a lot of bureaucratic rules that don’t make sense, common sense,” he said.

For example, drug addicts who seek help to start the journey of sobriety must be clean for three days.

He added: “They also need identification documents. Many of them don’t have ID… they don’t have new underwear, let alone a driver’s license.

“To trample on someone who is seeking help from a government agency is, to me, a failure of intelligence.”

I had one
My 16 month old weighs more than an EIGHT year old and wears his dad's clothes
Tranq can cause limb loss due to infection at injection sites


Tranq can cause limb loss due to infection at injection sitesAuthor: Getty
O criticized the lack of policing in Kensington and the continued implementation of policies that do not work


O criticized the lack of policing in Kensington and the continued implementation of policies that do not workAuthor: Getty

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