Zombie drug the newest hurdle in the fight to reduce drug deaths

Zombie drug the newest hurdle in the fight to reduce drug deaths

Zombie drug the newest hurdle in the fight to reduce drug deaths

Because of his lengthy history of overdosing and addiction struggles, Johnny’s pals refer to him as “Johnny Narcan.”

He is fully aware of all the ingredients that drug traffickers cover up in their products to increase sales and satiate consumers’ appetites.

“If they can, they will try to sell you confectionary sugar,” stated Johnny, an Atlantic City resident.

He therefore unintentionally tried “tranq,” a contaminated street drug made by traffickers combining fentanyl and the horse tranquilizer xylazine. He was not fond of it.

“You just crumple where you are after making a shot. You’re immobile when you wake up,” he said. The weight of a horse is 700–800 pounds. If not more, we weigh 150 or 200 pounds. What is this doing to a 150-pound person if it’s being given to horses to put them to sleep?

Over twenty years ago, xylazine made its way into the illegal drug trade in the United States. However, it wasn’t popularized until recently; in 2018, New Jersey’s drug warriors were the first to use it.

Zombie drug the newest hurdle in the fight to reduce drug deaths

Even today, it’s not nearly as common or hazardous as fentanyl, another adulterant that increased overdose deaths and revolutionized emergency response.

However, xylazine has been connected to horrifying, chronic sores that can increase the risk of amputation and even death if left untreated. Because of these festering wounds and the general coma that xylazine causes, some people have dubbed tranq “the zombie drug.”

Since xylazine is a non-opioid sedative and is not affected by naloxone, the medication that reverses opioid overdoses, it further exacerbates the overdose reaction.

Furthermore, because xylazine is a medicine that is legal but is being used illegally, laws haven’t kept up with its use, making it difficult for law enforcement to halt its supply.

Because of all of the aforementioned factors, the Biden administration last month designated tranq as a “emerging drug threat,” necessitating a national response that includes increased health interventions, data gathering and research, and supplier crackdowns. In November, the Food and Drug Administration also sent out a warning to medical professionals regarding xylazine.

“This began as a minor issue and then it grew, most likely as a result of lax controls on xylazine’s availability,” Dr. Lewis Nelson, head of the medical toxicology section and chair of the emergency medicine department at Rutgers University, stated. “They’re stepping it up right now. It will undoubtedly be difficult to do, though.

According to the city’s health department, 90% of street opioid tests in Philadelphia as of 2021 contained xylazine. In New Jersey, xylazine is particularly prevalent in Camden.

According to Capt. Jason Piotrowski, chief of the New Jersey State Police’s drug monitoring and analysis unit, the sedative has been detected in around 30% of opioid samples from the state in recent years, as well as 7% of overdose deaths.

Piotrowski stated, “We’ve been tracking it for a long time.” “I don’t think anyone really has a handle on it yet; there’s a lot of confusion right now.”

“There’s a lot of debate in my world, to be honest, about some of the repercussions of xylazine,” Nelson said, echoing the view.

There’s no denying that fentanyl remains the leading drug-related death toll.

According to Nelson, “there really isn’t anything more dangerous about tranq than fentanyl.” Fentanyl is the 800-pound gorilla in this situation. Even while xylazine is present in the corpses of deceased individuals, this is not a major factor in their demise. In the great majority of cases, fentanyl or its analogs are the guilty party. I wouldn’t quite characterize xylazine as an innocent bystander, but it is one nevertheless.

Weird silver lining

According to state statistics, the number of drug-related deaths in New Jersey is actually at its lowest point since 2017. The pandemic peaked in 2021 with 3,124 deaths, but last year’s total was slightly under 2,900.

Nelson emphasized that this does not imply a decline in drug usage. Rather, more individuals are avoiding death as a result of naloxone, which is now provided gratis at pharmacies and safe syringe locations. Since 2017, the number of these events has been steadily rising. According to statistics, the number of persons who received Narcan or another type of naloxone last year increased from around 11,500 in 2017.

“I’ll give you a dirty little secret: most overdose victims do not end up dead. We are aware of this because hundreds of individuals overdose every night in cities like Newark or Philadelphia, Nelson added. “They will die the next time, or the time after, if we don’t get them into treatment and help them quit using opioids.”

The decreasing death rate, according to Piotrowski, is “a weird silver lining to xylazine.”

A medication grows less and less lethal the more xylazine and fentanyl are removed from it. In addition, xylazine has a much longer half-life, which implies they’ll likely need fewer dosages, the speaker added.

However, xylazine makes the overdose response more difficult because, according to Nelson, people who are trying to revive an unconscious person with naloxone often give the drug too much when the patient doesn’t wake up. This is because naloxone only acts on the opioid in the patient’s system, meaning that someone who is unconscious due to xylazine won’t wake up.

It’s important to keep in mind that arousal is not the goal of naloxone delivery. It isn’t waking up. It’s respiring,” he said. “Those on xylazine do not experience respiratory arrest. Opioids are taken by people. Thus, you’re done if you provide naloxone to someone and they start breathing. It’s not necessary to give them extra to get them to wake up because doing so runs the danger of hurting them.

He said that using too much naloxone might cause withdrawal, which can lead to other issues.

Vomiting is a common side effect of opiate withdrawal, according to Nelson. If someone starts to throw up while still unconscious from xylazine in their system, this can result in serious side effects, including possibly fatal lung aspiration of vomit.

Legislation pending

Legislators in New Jersey have taken modest action to combat tranq.

A number of legislators from New Jersey proposed legislation to strengthen regulation of veterinary drugs. Legislation introduced by Republican Assemblymen Kevin Rooney and Robert Auth would mandate that veterinarian prescription drugs be supplied under the animal owner’s name and registered in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program.

Zombie drug the newest hurdle in the fight to reduce drug deaths

However, since 2017, it has been proposed four times without being taken up by MPs.

Rooney said that his fears about individuals abusing their pets in order to obtain Tramadol—a synthetic opioid used to relieve pain in dogs, cats, and other small animals—led him to submit the legislation.

Because there was no registry, Rooney claimed, “They would get the prescription for Tramadol for Fluffy, and then they would go to another vet and bring that same injured dog, and Fluffy would get more Tramadol, and go to another vet and get more Tramadol.”

Rooney and his spouse are horse owners, so he was particularly horrified to see how early in the epidemic people started using Ivermectin, a horse dewormer, to combat COVID-19.

“It’s important to be aware of the consequences of abusing certain drugs, as there has been abuse of drugs that aren’t just related to horses but also to dogs, cats, cows, pigs, sheep, and other animals,” Rooney stated.

In addition to a new measure he submitted this month to compel reporting of xylazine prescriptions and categorize it as a Class III restricted dangerous chemical, he thinks the recent focus on xylazine would help move the delayed law forward.

He stated, “It’s receiving so much national attention right now, from both sides of the aisle.” “We must support our law enforcement and stand up for life protection. And in order to do that, certain legislation were made.

Test strips and affordability

Additionally, harm reduction professionals are stepping up their attempts to counteract the damaging effects of tranq by giving out bandages and other wound-care materials to those they come into contact with at their centers and during street outreach.

The New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition’s co-founder, Jenna Mellor, has also pushed for the state to utilize more test strips.

Health officials now provide test strips so that consumers may check to see whether the medications they purchase have fentanyl. In order to give individuals confidence to use xylazine test strips without worrying about facing legal repercussions, Mellor suggested that the state likewise provide xylazine test strips and take further steps to legalize drug usage.

Test strips were deemed “a misguided idea” by Nelson. According to him, the strips show what’s in the medication but not how much of it.

“It might have a single fentanyl particle or it could contain fentanyl throughout. You’re clueless,” he remarked. What then do you do with that knowledge? Do you truly think that someone would genuinely say, “Oh, there’s fentanyl in my heroin, so I’m going to throw it out and go buy some more”?

Nelson would rather see lawmakers keep concentrating on finding methods to lower the cost and increase the accessibility of naloxone for both patients and the hospitals that treat them. He cited a state law requiring hospitals to provide naloxone to patients being released from their care who are on opioids.

“You are aware that the health care industry operates on extremely tight margins. Therefore, it’s an unfunded obligation that may add $100,000 to my hospital’s expenses, which I’m not sure we can actually afford,” Nelson stated. “Perhaps that ought to be covered by the state. Perhaps they ought to cover the cost if they want me to provide naloxone, which is a really good idea.

If you are interested in more drugs articles visit our Drugs category


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Muhammad Naqash
By Muhammad Naqash

Welcome to Online UK Pills, your go-to source for the latest insights and updates on CBD, drugs, health, pills, vape, and alcohol. I am Muhammad Naqash, the author behind the Site, and I am passionate about providing you with accurate and up-to-date information to empower your journey towards a healthier and more informed lifestyle.

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