There’s a new street drug in town – and it’s deadly. “Tranq” is the nickname for xylazine, an animal tranquilizer that’s showing up in fentanyl, heroin and other drugs, and as a single pill.
Xylazine has a rapid onset, kicking in within minutes and lasting 8 or more hours. Once taken your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Experts say users can become comatose, lose muscle control, and eventually breathing will stop. These symptoms are similar to an opioid overdose, but in these cases, Narcan does not reverse the effects.
“Tranq in no way shape, or form makes a drug better,” says Dr. R. Corey Waller, BrightView Health’s Chief Medical Officer. “It doesn’t make you have a better high. It actually increases the risk of death, or it increases the risk of painful skin wounds, like ulcers and abscesses.”
Between 2021 and 2022, tranq-positive overdose deaths skyrocketed. The South saw a 1,127% increase, followed by 750% in the West, 516% in the Midwest, and 103% in the Northeast, according to the DEA.
There’s only one way to avoid tranq: stop using. In other words, start treatment immediately and start working towards recovery.
The consequences of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), the medical diagnosis for addiction, can be severe. Broken relationships, strained finances, lost jobs, serious illness, and involvement with the criminal justice system aren’t unusual.
Death shouldn’t be one of those consequences. In some ways, tranq is another in a long line of ever-more dangerous street drugs. The most effective and possibly only solution is treatment, especially treatment that’s accessible, affordable, and evidence-based.
Few people die from chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The same should be true of SUD, which is also a chronic illness that can be treated with a combination of medication, individual and group counseling, and social support.
You Can Save Lives
Tranq is a serious threat, but it’s important not to lose sight of how you can help.
First, learn to use Narcan and carry it with you. When you encounter someone in trouble, there’s no way to know what drug they took. Administering Narcan and calling 911 will save lives. If tranq is only one ingredient, Narcan may make the difference.
Second, if a friend or loved one is struggling with addiction, encourage them to start treatment. Taking that first step is difficult, courageous – and possibly life-saving. Getting help is as easy as walking through the front door of our centers, by calling 888-501-9865, or visiting brightviewhealth.com.