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‘Tranq Drug’ Trend Making the Fentanyl Crisis Worse: Shocking Facts You Need to Know

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The tranq drug trend is the latest trend among street drug users that has claimed thousands of lives.  In every state across the U.S., health officials are warning drug users to avoid this toxic drug.  First responders nationwide have been alerted about the devastating effects of tranq and to use any data they can to help track the substance.

Tranq use in the United States is predicted to follow the same path as fentanyl, according to the DEA.  Comparing figures from 2020 and 2021, the number of tranq overdose deaths has increased significantly.  As shown in the table below, the percentage of increased tranq-positive overdoses across the U.S. is shocking:  

Region 2020 2021 % Increase
Northeast 631 1,281 103%
South 116 1,423 1,127%
Midwest 57 351 516%
West 4 34 750%

*Source:  DEA

What Is Tranq Drug and How Is It Used?

What is tranq drug?  The medical name is Xylazine. It is a veterinary sedative used on cattle, horses, and other large animals. Tranq is one of several street names for xylazine.  Drug traffickers also call it by other names such as tranq drug or zombie drug.

In recent years several street drugs, such as fentanyl, have been found to contain xylazine. The combination of fentanyl and xylazine is known as tranq dope and it has become the top drug of choice in many large cities.  

Generally, people inject tranq, but they also swallow, snort, smoke, or inhale the drug.  Some users form a speedball containing tranq and cocaine or heroin.

Because it is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, Xylazine is not approved for human use.  However, this fact does not deter street dealers who profit highly as the tranq drug trend spreads.  

Why Is Tranq Called ‘Zombie Drug’?

One of the side effects of tranq is a zombie-like posture.  The drug induces a semi-conscious state that causes the user’s upper body to hang over the lower half.  The individual moves very slowly if they can move at all.  

Among the many dangers of tranq are the raw wounds users develop at injection sites on their skin.  The wounds become infected and can lead to amputation of a limb if left untreated.  Sadly, some tranq users have been seen injecting the drug into the stump where a limb was removed.

This combination of side effects is what triggered the name zombie drug. Some people say the individuals resemble characters from The Walking Dead series.

What Are the Side Effects of Tranq Drug?

What Are the Side Effects of Tranq Drug?

Xylazine, or tranq drug, also causes a range of unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects in addition to the zombie-like effects above.  Similar to opioids, xylazine (tranq) use can lead to central nervous system depression in addiction to other adverse effects such as: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Staggering
  • Blurred vision
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • High blood sugar
  • Slow heart rate
  • Coma
  • Overdose
  • Death

The side effects vary according to the amount ingested and the presence of other drugs.  When tranq is combined with other drugs, the risk of respiratory failure increases. Many tranq users report having blacked out for several hours after ingesting the drug.  Clearly, this is a dangerous substance that has the potential to kill many thousands of people.

In the event of a tranq overdose, many ERs don’t routinely test for xylazine, thereby increasing the risk of death.  What’s more, Naloxone won’t reverse a tranq overdose.  However, Naloxone should be administered to combat any opioids that may be present.  

Learn More About the Disturbing Facts About Xylazine Everyone Needs to Know

Treatment for Tranq Drug Addiction at Design for Change Recovery

Treatment for tranq addiction will follow a similar path as a treatment for fentanyl addiction.  After the initial detox stage, a series of inpatient therapies are needed.  They include evidence-based modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, holistic therapies, counseling, family therapy, and more.

At Design for Change Recovery, we offer clients a chance to heal from the physical, emotional, and mental factors that are part of any addiction. In a comforting environment staffed by compassionate professionals, you can focus on reaching your recovery goals.

No one can overcome tranq addiction on their own.  The drug is simply too powerful.  If you are ready to take back control of your mind and body, Design for Change is here to help you.  We will assess your needs and recommend a treatment plan that suits your unique situation.  

Street drugs will continue to increase in potency and the risks to your health and life are far too great if you use these substances.  

Contact us today at our Lancaster, CA facility to learn more about how we can help you overcome addiction, regardless of the drug or drugs involved.  


  • – The Growing Threat of Xylazine and Its Mixture with Illicit Drugs
  • – Xylazine as a Drug of Abuse: Toxic Effects to Endothelial Cells in Combination with Cocaine and Heroin
‘Tranq Drug’ Trend Making the Fentanyl Crisis Worse: Shocking Facts You Need to Know