DEA cautions about increasing use of xylazine in illegal fentanyl distribution

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has recently issued a new warning regarding the increasing use of a veterinary sedative in the illegal fentanyl supply.

For years, dealers have been combining xylazine, an approved non-opioid tranquilizer used for animals, with fentanyl and other substances to amplify potency and maximize profits.

According to a recent statement by DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, in 2022, approximately 25% of all powdered fentanyl contained xylazine. However, in 2023, this number increased to about 30%. On the other hand, the percentage of fentanyl pills testing positive for xylazine witnessed a slight decrease from 7% in 2022 to 6% in 2023.

In 2023, the DEA managed to seize a staggering 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder and a whopping 79.5 million fentanyl pills.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Xylazine can lead to severe skin ulcers and necrotizing wounds. These wounds, which are often caused by the drug’s stigma and are commonly referred to as tranq, tranq dope, sleep cut, or zombie drug, may deter individuals from seeking proper treatment. If left untreated, these wounds can become infected and, in severe cases, may even necessitate amputation.

In July 2023, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy unveiled a strategy aimed at decreasing the number of fatalities related to xylazine-positive drug use by 15% across most of the country. The plan places emphasis on various areas including testing, data collection, evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, supply reduction, scheduling, and research. The objective is to achieve a 15% reduction in xylazine-positive drug poisoning deaths by 2025, compared to the baseline year of 2022, in at least three out of the four U.S. census regions.

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