Over the last months, we have repeatedly shared information about xylazine or “tranq”, a powerful non-opioid veterinary sedative that is emerging as a deadly threat in the illicit drug scene in the United States, and caused the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to issue a national public safety alert in February.
Now, the Biden administration has added its voice to the increasing concern about the dangers posed by the mixture of fentanyl and xylazine, designating this combination of drugs as an ‘emerging threat’ to the United States.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is many more times powerful than heroin. It has a legitimate use in the treatment of severe pain. However, in recent years, it has been used illicitly and is responsible for a growing number of deaths in the U.S. Xylazine is increasingly being used to cut or dilute fentanyl and the combination of the two drugs is extremely dangerous.
Because the use of xylazine to cut fentanyl is a relatively new practice in the illicit drug market, many users may not be aware of just how deadly this combination can be.
The effects of fentanyl combined with xylazine are similar to those of fentanyl alone, but much more potent. Users can experience feelings of euphoria, relaxation, confusion, drowsiness, and possibly respiratory depression. In some cases, users may experience seizures or coma.
The Biden administration’s designation of the fentanyl-xylazine combination as an emerging threat allows law enforcement officials to more effectively target the distribution and use of the drug combination. It means more funding for drug treatment programs and increased resources for law enforcement agencies. The administration is also working to educate the public about the effects of the fentanyl-xylazine combination, and the signs of opioid overdoes.