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Tranq Walking and The Zombie Drug

A lethal combination of drugs that first appeared in Philadelphia three years ago has been spreading rapidly across our country and creating zombies.

8 min read
Tranq Walking and The Zombie Drug

Table of Contents

What Is Going on Here?

I kept seeing videos of these zombie-like people in the urban areas of our country on social media.


I never understood what's going on here at all.

Why are they standing? What's the story here?

I found this detail in one of the comments:

I hadn't heard the term "tranq dope" and I also hadn't heard of xylazine.

So I decided to look into this a bit with

Tranq Dope

Layng: What is "tranq dope"? Tranq dope refers to a dangerous combination of fentanyl, a potent opioid, and xylazine, a veterinary sedative. Xylazine, also known as "Tranq," is approved for veterinary use but has been increasingly mixed with fentanyl in illicit drugs, posing a severe threat to public health. This mixture has led to a surge in fatal drug poisonings, with xylazine causing unique risks such as severe wounds and tissue necrosis that may result in amputation. The combination of fentanyl and xylazine is highly toxic and can induce blackout stupors, making users vulnerable to various dangers like rape and robbery. Moreover, xylazine's sedative effects resist standard opioid overdose reversal treatments like naloxone.

Fentanyl and Xylazine

Layng: Why is fentanyl being mixed with xylazine? Fentanyl is being mixed with xylazine, a veterinary sedative, to enhance the drug effects and increase street value by adding weight to the product. Xylazine, also known as "Tranq," can prolong the euphoric effects compared to fentanyl alone, making the mixture more potent and addictive. This combination poses a significant threat to public health, leading to a surge in fatal drug poisonings. The presence of xylazine in drugs tested in labs has increased across the United States, with xylazine causing severe wounds and tissue necrosis that may result in amputation. Additionally, xylazine's sedative effects resist standard opioid overdose reversal treatments like naloxone, making it even more dangerous for users.

Effects of Tranq Dope

Layng: What does it feel like to take fentanyl mixed with xylazine? (with Co-Pilot): Taking fentanyl mixed with xylazine can lead to a range of severe and dangerous effects. Users may experience prolonged sedation, often described as a blackout stupor, which can last for several hours. This state of deep sedation increases the risk of physical and sexual assault, theft, and medical complications due to prolonged immobility, such as pressure ulcers, blood clots, compartment syndrome, and rhabdomyolysis. Compartment syndrome is a painful condition where pressure within the muscles rises to dangerous levels, potentially requiring urgent medical intervention, while rhabdomyolysis involves the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney damage.

Xylazine also causes central nervous system depression, which can contribute to muscle relaxation of the tongue, potentially blocking the airway and exacerbating the risk of overdose. The sedative effects of xylazine are resistant to standard opioid overdose reversal treatments like naloxone, meaning that while naloxone should still be administered in the event of an overdose, its effectiveness may be limited in reversing the effects of xylazine.

Additionally, xylazine use can lead to the development of severe skin wounds and infections. These wounds can become significantly worse over time, leading to redness, swelling, worsening pain, fever, increased drainage (pus or fluid), and an unpleasant odor. In severe cases, the affected tissue may turn black, yellow, or tan, indicating necrosis or death of the tissue, which may require medical attention or even amputation.

Users have reported a range of adverse effects, including prolonged sedation and increased skin wounds. Among those who have experienced withdrawal from xylazine, symptoms can be severe, with reports of high blood pressure, increased heart rate, sweating, restlessness, agitation, and irritability. Withdrawal from xylazine can also exacerbate withdrawal symptoms from other drugs, making the process even more challenging.

In summary, the combination of fentanyl and xylazine can induce a dangerous state of prolonged sedation, increase the risk of severe medical complications, and lead to challenging withdrawal symptoms. The presence of xylazine in the illicit drug supply poses significant risks to users, many of whom may not be aware of its inclusion in the substances they are using.

Similarities to Krokodil

Layng: Is this similar to the drug "Krokodil"? The drug Krokodil, also known as desomorphine, is a powerful opioid derivative of codeine that has gained notoriety for its severe and devastating effects on users. Krokodil is associated with extreme skin ulcerations, infections, and gangrene, leading to a discolored, scale-like skin that resembles a crocodile, hence its street name "krokodil" or "crocodil." The drug is highly addictive and has been referred to as "Poor Man's Heroin" due to its cheaper cost compared to heroin. Long-term users injecting Krokodil can develop serious vein damage, soft tissue infections, necrosis, and gangrene. The drug's toxic effects are attributed to the caustic agents used in its production, such as hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus, iodine, gasoline, and paint thinner.

Xylazine, on the other hand, is a veterinary sedative that has been increasingly mixed with fentanyl in illicit drugs. While Xylazine and Krokodil differ in their chemical composition and origin, their impact on users is eerily similar. Xylazine abusers experience a sedated and disoriented state similar to Krokodil users. Both substances can cause severe damage to the user's body, including tissue necrosis, gangrene, and a decaying appearance. Xylazine has been associated with a surge in overdose deaths when combined with opioids like fentanyl.

In summary, while there are similarities in the severe effects caused by both Krokodil and the mixture of fentanyl with xylazine (known as tranq dope), they are distinct substances with their own chemical compositions and origins. Both substances pose significant risks to users' health and have led to devastating consequences in communities where they are abused.

Method of Consumption

Layng: How do users take fentanyl mixed with xylazine? Users typically take fentanyl mixed with xylazine by injecting the mixture intravenously. This method of administration allows for rapid absorption into the bloodstream, intensifying the effects of the drugs. Xylazine, a veterinary sedative, is increasingly being mixed with fentanyl and other opioids to enhance drug effects or increase street value. While injection is the most common route of administration for this mixture, users may also swallow or sniff it, although injection remains the primary method.

Xylazine without Fentanyl

Layng: Do some people take xylazine without fentanyl? Yes, some people do take xylazine without fentanyl. While xylazine is often mixed with opioids like fentanyl to enhance drug effects or increase street value, there are individuals who use xylazine knowingly or unknowingly. Research indicates that people who use drugs (PWUD) may have mixed preferences for xylazine, with most trying to avoid using it due to the potential negative health impacts it causes. Xylazine is primarily seen as an additive in the unregulated drug supply and is commonly added to illicitly manufactured fentanyl to extend the duration of its effects. Users may experience deep sedation for several hours after using substances containing xylazine, putting them at risk for various medical complications and dangers such as physical and sexual assault, theft, and pressure ulcers.

Duration of the High

Layng: How long does the tranq dope high typically last? The high from fentanyl mixed with xylazine, known as "tranq dope," typically lasts for several hours. Xylazine is added to fentanyl to extend the duration of the high, making it more desirable for users seeking a longer-lasting effect compared to fentanyl alone. The sedative effects of xylazine contribute to this prolonged high, which has been likened to the feeling of heroin due to its extended duration. Users may experience a blackout stupor for hours, rendering them vulnerable to various dangers like rape and robbery. Xylazine's sedative properties resist standard opioid overdose reversal treatments like naloxone, further complicating the risks associated with its use

Tranq Walk

Layng: What is "tranq walk"? "Tranq walk" is a term used to describe a phenomenon where individuals under the influence of "tranq dope," a mixture of fentanyl and xylazine, appear to be in a trance-like state and exhibit unusual behavior such as remaining standing despite being heavily sedated. The sedative effects of xylazine can induce a deep stupor, causing users to seem unaware of their surroundings and leading to this peculiar walking pattern. Users may exhibit this behavior due to the potent sedative properties of xylazine, which can render them immobile or in a trance-like state for an extended period, contributing to the "tranq walk" phenomenon.

The Zombie Drug

Layng: Do people on tranq dope become zombies? Yes, "tranq dope" users are colloquially referred to as being in a trance-like stupor, leading to the drug being called the "zombie drug." Users under the influence of tranq dope often exhibit behaviors that resemble being in a trance, with some remaining standing despite the sedative effects of xylazine. The drug can induce a blackout stupor for hours, leaving users vulnerable to various dangers like rape and robbery. Additionally, the damage caused by tranq dope can be severe, with users developing wounds that can become necrotic and require amputation if left untreated. The high from tranq dope can lead individuals to crave more of the substance once they come out of the stupor induced by the mixture.

Tranq Dope Overdoses

Layng: How do medics deal with a tranq dope overdose? In dealing with a tranq dope overdose, medics face challenges due to the unique properties of xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer mixed with fentanyl. Xylazine is a sedative and not an opioid, making it resistant to standard opioid overdose reversal treatments like naloxone. Therefore, naloxone may not effectively reverse the effects of xylazine in tranq dope overdoses. In cases involving xylazine, symptoms associated with xylazine may persist even after naloxone administration. More than one dose of naloxone may be required to restore normal breathing, and in cases involving xylazine, rescue breaths should be given. Additionally, supportive care is crucial for individuals who have overdosed on tranq dope, as there is no specific medication to address withdrawal symptoms caused by xylazine.

Tranq Dope's First Appearance

Layng: When did tranq dope first appear? "Tranq dope," a mixture of fentanyl and xylazine, first appeared in Philadelphia about three years ago, making its mark on the city's street drugs. The drug has since become a significant part of the street fentanyl supply in Philadelphia, leading to severe health consequences for users. Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer, is known on the street as "tranq" and has been detected in over 90% of drug samples in Philadelphia. The wounds caused by tranq dope are particularly severe, with users developing deep and necrotic wounds that may require amputation if left untreated. Overdose deaths involving xylazine have increased significantly in recent years, with the drug being detected in at least 48 states by 2023.

America's Deadliest Drug

Layng: What drug has the highest overdose death rate in the United States? The drug with the highest overdose death rate in the United States is fentanyl. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, has been a major contributor to the opioid overdose epidemic. In 2021, fentanyl was involved in 67,325 preventable deaths, representing a 26% increase from the previous year2. The rise in fentanyl-related deaths has been significant, with synthetic opioids like fentanyl driving the majority of drug overdose deaths in recent years. The potency and prevalence of fentanyl have made it one of the deadliest drugs in terms of overdose deaths in the United States.

Impact of Xylazine on Fentanyl Overdose Rate

Layng: Does the presence of xylazine in fentanyl increase or decrease the death rate? The presence of xylazine in fentanyl can significantly increase the lethality of the drug combination. Studies have shown that both fentanyl and xylazine individually produce dose-dependent increases in lethality. When combined, a nonlethal dose of fentanyl can decrease the estimated lethal dose (LD50) of xylazine by approximately 5-fold, while a nonlethal dose of xylazine can decrease the LD50 of fentanyl by approximately 100-fold. This synergistic interaction between fentanyl and xylazine can lead to rapid lethality, with death occurring within minutes after administration of high-dose combinations. The opioid receptor antagonist naloxone has been shown to decrease the lethality of a fentanyl-xylazine combination, highlighting the increased danger posed by the mixture compared to either drug alone

Further Research

CNN Video about Tranq

Once I educated myself on this topic, I found quite a lot of information has come out about tranq in the past year or so.

YouTube is full of videos about it.

This CNN video gives a good overview:

Kensington Ave. Live Stream Cameras

Kensington Ave. in Philadelphia seems to be ground zero of the epidemic.

There are several cameras in this area livestreaming to YouTube.

Camera 2:

Camera 3:

Camera 4:

Camera 5:

tranq dopetranqzombie drugfentanylunited statesxylazinekrokodiltranq walk


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