Los Angeles streets are dealing with a gruesome zombie drug that is being sold illicitly by mixing in opioids. Xylazine, popularly also known as Tranq/zombie drug, is a veterinary tranquilizer that can lead to amputations and an overdose risk. Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have launched a new program to track the alarming prevalence of the substance, which is a sedative commonly used by veterinarians to anaesthetize animals.
Growing concerns over the increasing prevalence of xylazine in LA have law enforcement officials and addiction specialists extremely concerned.
What is Xylazine?
Xylazine is primarily used as a veterinary sedative and analgesic. It is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist, which means it works by binding to specific receptors in the nervous system that regulate the release of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine.
Liquid and preloaded syringes are legal ways to purchase Xylazine, while it is also obtainable online in powdered form. The misuse of this drug was first reported in Puerto Rico during the early 2000s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Xylazine injections are commonly used in veterinary medicine to sedate animals for surgery and to provide pain relief. It can also be used to calm anxious or aggressive animals. The harmful drug has never been approved for human consumption, according to the FDA, despite an increase in illicit use as a recreational drug.
It is a controlled substance that can be extremely dangerous if used incorrectly. Drowsiness, a slow heart rate, low blood pressure, and respiratory depression are all possible side effects of xylazine.
Why it is called Zombie Drug?
Because of its powerful sedative effects, which can cause people to appear in a trance or "zombie-like" state, Xylazine is now infamously referred to as a "zombie drug." Another concerning side effect is visible skin rotting and the subsequent appearance of eschar ( scaly crust of dead tissue that eventually sloughs off healthy skin after an injury).
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According to FBI Special Agent Bill Bodner "It's really gruesomely disfiguring people. It's much more likely to stop someone from breathing, and it's a vasoconstrictor. So when you inject it, you're actually decreasing blood circulation."
Both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the LA County Health Department have issued urgent warnings about xylazine. Some say the county's pilot program is a small step in the right direction to fight a massive drug war consisting of a staggering increase in deaths.
The new focus on tracking xylazine will give officials a better sense of the drug's prevalence on LA streets and the best way to counter this deadly new threat.