May 18, 2023 – Xylazine has taken a stronghold in Philadelphia, a city at the forefront of addiction crisis and care. A 2021 study conducted by the city’s public health department found traces of it in more than 90% of samples of dope—a mix of different illicit drugs. It’s unclear exactly how many people in Philadelphia are using xylazine, but in 2021, at least 434 fatal overdoses there involved xylazine. How lethal and dangerous xylazine is remains a mystery, and as puzzled health care providers struggle, fear grows that the crisis will escalate in other parts of the U.S. The Biden Administration deemed xylazine-laced fentanyl an “emerging threat” in April and asked Congress for $11 million to combat it.

Infamous for causing severe flesh wounds that can require amputation, xylazine isn’t approved for human consumption but also isn’t a controlled substance, which means it isn’t regulated by the U.S. government. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has seized xylazine-fentanyl dope in at least 48 states and warned in November 2022 that many people don’t realize they’re taking it.


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