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What is xylazine? Experts explain as DEA warns of mixture of drug with fentanyl

DEA Reports Widespread Threat of Fentanyl Mixed with Xylazine
Posted at 3:32 PM, Mar 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 16:35:04-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning Americans of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine, including in Texas.

According to a release from the DEA, xylazine, a drug known as “Tranq,” is a powerful drug that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for veterinary use only.

It's used for sedation and muscle relaxation in large animals such as horses and cattle.

However, it can cause damaging effects to human who consume the drug.

Marcelus Ross, Resident Agent for the Corpus Christi DEA's Office said xylazine can eat a person's flesh, cause a person to slip into a coma and even cause death.

“It causes issues with their respiratory system, as well as the cardiac system, and it could lead them to a coma,” Ross said.

According to a release from the DEA, xylazine is not an opioid, so narcan does not reverse its effects. This places users at a higher risk of suffering fatal drug poisoning.

"Still, experts always recommend administering naloxone if someone might be suffering a drug poisoning," the release states. "People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation."

"The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23 percent of fentanyl powder and 7 percent of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in the release.

Ross said that the drug is making its way around the United States at a concerning rate, which means more people can die if they do these drugs.

“It’s been found in 48 states out of the 50,” Ross said. "It’s been found in Texas, primarilyil Austin. We have not seen it here in the Coastal Bend at this time.”

Kaylin Thompson, Communications Manager at the Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center en is concerned about the drugs growing circulation within the U.S.

“It is scary to think that on any given day someone could have taken Xylazine,“Thompson said . “We have Narcan, but that’s not going to help, so it’s really scary to think that that could happen.”

The releases states according to the CDC, 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like Fentanyl.

“This is not the time to try drugs or experience with drugs,” Ross said. "Fentanyl is deadly — with it being combined with xylazine, it’s even deadlier.”

n People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation.

For more information regarding the xylazine, click here.

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