What is Xylazine? Everything to know about the ‘zombie drug’ in the USA

The closest that any of us has come to a zombie apocalypse has been while watching shows like The Last of Us or playing video games like Resident Evil. However, it looks like we might be one step closer to experiencing something similar in the real world as well. Xylazine, a medication in the USA, is reportedly causing harmful ‘zombie-like’ side effects including, but not limited to, making people’s skin rot.

Health professionals are alarmed about this medication’s terrible side effects on the human body. According to the New York Post, the zombie drug had been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for veterinary purposes, but in recent years it has been found in fentanyl and other illicit drugs as well.

What is Xylazine?

Primarily used as a veterinary sedative and analgesic, Xylazine is a type of alpha-2 adrenergic agonist, which in simple English means that it works by binding to specific receptors in the nervous system that regulate the release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine.

In veterinary medicine, xylazine injections are commonly used to sedate animals for surgeries and to provide pain relief. It can also be used to calm animals that are anxious or aggressive. According to the FDA, the harmful drug has never been approved for human consumption, although it has seen an increase in illicit use as a recreational drug by being cut in dope to increase its legs. Also known as ‘tranq’, the substance significantly increases the chances of overdose when mixed with another drug like heroin or fentanyl.

It is considered to be a controlled substance and can be highly dangerous if used improperly. The conmon side effects of xylazine includes serious wounds that can be difficult to heal on its own, and can also induce severe drowsiness, slow heart rate, low blood pressure and respiratory depression.

What are the ‘zombie-like’ side effects of Xylazine?

These days, Xylazine or tranq is being infamously called a ‘zombie drug’ because of its powerful sedative effects that can make people appear in a trance or ‘zombie-like’ state.

The other alarming side effect is the visible rotting of the skin and the subsequent appearance of eschar. For those not aware of the term, eschar refers to a scaly crust of dead tissue that eventually sloughs off healthy skin after an injury. When used inappropriately, Xylazine can be highly dangerous, and can even lead to respiratory failure and/or death. Only licensed veterinarians are authorized to use xylazine, and only for animals. Using it without proper medical supervision is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal.

(Hero and featured image credit: Raghavendra V. Konkathi/Unsplash and Kevin Bidwell)

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