What Is Tranq Dope?

Tranq dope is a mix of synthetic substances which is commonly sold in place of heroin. The primary ingredient is xylazine, a potent animal tranquilizer that depresses the central nervous system including respiration and heart rate. Drug dealers will usually mix xylazine with heroin and or fentanyl, two highly powerful and dangerous opioids in their own right, to create what we know as tranq dope. When Xylazine is added these already potent opioids become even more dangerous. The Xylazine increases the CNS depressing effects of fentanyl and or heroin. This results in increased potency and sedation. Xylazine is intended as a sedative for large animals such as horses and is not approved for human consumption under any conditions. Despite that, dealers have increasingly used Xylazine as a way to increase potency for a low cost. This is not the first time animal tranquilizers have been utilized in street drugs. However, the gruesome effects of xylazine on humans and its growing popularity have increased media coverage of the issue. The use of Tranq dope has already reached an estimated 39 states, prompting the FDA to issue an import alert about the substance.

How Tranq Dope Interacts With the Body

Users who ingest tranq dope will experience specific effects aside from the sedation and the “high”. One of the most common and gruesome side effects is severe, painful skin wounds. In some cases, users may develop patches of rotting or dead flesh, leaving them extremely vulnerable to infection. When left untreated, the rotting or dead flesh can cut off blood flow to the limb, which can result in amputation. Unfortunately, the list of side effects tranq dope can cause does not end there. Because the main substance in this drug is an animal sedative and CNS depressant, many users also experience slowed breathing and a reduced heart rate. Other side effects include low blood pressure, drowsiness, reduced blood sugar levels, contracted pupils and an overall slowing down of the central nervous system. These effects are what cause the feeling or high that users are seeking but also put them in danger. It’s also worth pointing out that tranq dope slows the body’s natural healing process, which can exacerbate the skin wounds it causes. Another major danger of tranq dope use is the increased likelihood of overdose. Xylazine increases the effects of heroin and or fentanyl leaving users more at risk of overdose. To make matters worse, xylazine is unaffected by Narcan, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses. This increases the likelihood of death via overdose.

Ramifications of Tranq Dope

Because tranq dope is a relatively new drug, the addiction treatment industry is still working on developing best practices to treat it. This is an evolving situation. There is no official protocol for withdrawal management as of yet for tranq dope. Because of this, the withdrawal process can be more difficult than it is for other substances and extremely difficult to effectively manage. Many treatment centers are not yet equipped to deal with patients using tranq dope. 

Another major stumbling block is that there is not yet a reliable testing method for the presence of tranq dope in one’s system. In most rehab centers, it’s standard protocol to test each patient to determine which drugs are in their system. If xylazine does not show up on a drug test, this can prevent addiction specialists from administering the proper treatment to the trans-addicted patient.

Why is Tranq dope so accessible?

One of the biggest reasons for tranq dope’s surge in popularity is that it isn’t a controlled substance. Therefore it isn’t regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the way more widely used substances are such as oxycodone or fentanyl. The DEA’s lack of authority over the substance has led to it becoming extremely accessible to dealers. Coupling this fact with its low cost and it results in the situation we are seeing now, tranq dope is flooding the illicit drug supply.

Here at Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center, we offer various levels of care to treat those struggling with substance use of all kinds. We also treat individuals with co-occurring mental health conditions. If you or someone you care about is struggling with any form of substance use we can help. We are available 24/7/365 and offer no-cost and totally confidential consultations to discuss options for helping you or your loved one. Call us at 732-847-4555 or email us at outreach@harborwellnesscenter.org to start the journey to recovery today.