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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Users of ‘Xylazine’ are Amputating Their Legs From Withdrawal Symptoms

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A user of fentanyl, a narcotic drug, holds a needle near Kensington and Cambria in Philadelphia on October 22, 2018. AP = Yonhap

Among drug addicts in the United States, the number of cases of mixing and using “xylazine,” an animal sedative, with existing drugs, has soared, putting law enforcement on alert.

According to a report by the New York Times (NYT) on the 7th, more than 90% of the drugs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania were found to contain xylazine.

In New York City, xylazine was found in 25% of the drug samples. Health officials said, “We’re certain that it is more widespread in reality.”

“Xylazine’s true prevalence is unknown.” the NYT pointed out. However, the NYT quoted a study published in June last year and reported that xylazine was detected in drugs distributed in the U.S. capital, Washington, DC, and 36 out of 50 states.

“It’s too late in Philadelphia,” said Sean Westphal, a social worker at the drug addiction prevention center in Kensington, Philadelphia, where drug distribution is prevalent, “and if there’s a way to avoid it, you should listen to us.”

The NYT then told the stories of several addicts who have taken xylazine mixed drugs, commonly called “tranq dope,” or who are still taking them to this day.

Tattoo artist Brooke Feather, 38, amputated his leg a year ago after taking the “tranq dope” because the wound has been spreading to his bone. He has been injecting these drugs into his arm several times a day since. Otherwise, withdrawal symptoms cannot be tolerated.

The NYT quoted another patient who has been undergoing rehabilitation treatment for five months, saying that some addicts stab the “tranq dope” needles in the remaining parts of the amputated leg even after amputating one arm and one leg.

Xylazine, developed in 1962, is an animal sedative widely used by veterinarians around the world as a horse and cow anesthetic or cat vomiting inducer.

In the United States, it is also called “tranq dope” and “zombie drug”, and in Puerto Rico, it is also called “anestasia de caballo”. It is believed to have been used by drug addicts in the 2000s.

According to the NYT, if xylazine is mixed with existing drugs such as fentanyl and injected as an injection, dead swelling tissue called “eschar” or “necrotch” will form on the limbs, and if left untreated, the limbs may have to be amputated.

In addition, if xylazine mixed drugs are administered in this way, they are likely to be sexually assaulted or mugged because they lose their consciousness for many hours.

In the United States, the drug is not designated as a regulated drug, whether for animals or humans, so it is out of strict surveillance.