June 6, 2021- “Folks that are using heroin and fentanyl are transitioning to (Xylazine),” said Shea Madden, executive director of the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. “I think it’s predominantly injected.” West Branch caseworkers, who process roughly 2,000 individuals each year, have talked with multiple people who have used it, according to Madden. 

A drug used by veterinarians, primarily on horses, it didn’t become popular among humans until the early 2000s in Puerto Rico. It causes heavy sedation and is known on the street as “tranq” or “sleep cut.” 

In Puerto Rico, the common name for it is “zombie drug.” 

Use of Xylazine in the United States has steadily increased since 2015, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, with a number of advisories being sent out to communities where cases began to rise. 

“Many public health departments and poison control centers issued advisories and alerts while seizure activity have also been reported nationwide with large quantities found in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and California,” according to a February DEA report.

Still rare locally, law enforcement aren’t seeing Xylazine in drug arrests and the county Coroner Charles Kiessling Jr. has yet to find it as the result of an overdose death. However, he added that, due to high processing costs, he has only just begun to test for it. 



Subscribe Today! Your best source of current news, information and opinion about the issues that matter to you most. Serving the treatment industry, recovery community and health and wellness professionals.