Experts warn of new drug containing fentanyl, horse tranquilizer found in Arizona

The street name for this drug is called ‘tranq dope.’ Essentially, they say it’s fentanyl on steroids.
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 10:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Experts are warning of a new drug hitting the streets in Arizona, saying it can be more deadly than fentanyl. Fentanyl is deadly enough on its own, and now it’s laced with more toxins. The street name for this drug is called ‘tranq dope.’ Essentially, they say it’s fentanyl on steroids.

It can be twice as addictive and twice as deadly. Though Narcan can be used to help, it isn’t always successful. “You have no idea. It’s astronomical; it’s everywhere. Xylazine is the official name and it’s a horse tranquilizer,” said Brock Bevell, an addiction recovery specialist. “You see people slumped over. They have a zombie effect, we call it. And that’s what’s causing it, the xylazine.”

But tranq dope is not just xylazine. It’s xylazine, a horse tranquilizer mixed with fentanyl. “I see it all over the place. It looks like a walking zombie and most of it is because it slows down the heart rate,” he said.

As a recovered addict, Bevell spends his days helping those overdosing with Narcan. Only, he says the Narcan doesn’t help those using tranq dope. “Here’s the problem, if you use an opioid and you start to overdose from an opioid, there’s a reversal drug, naloxone, or Narcan. The problem with xylazine is it’s not an opioid but it has the same effect. And if you use too much you can overdose. So you can have a patient who goes down that’s using fentanyl and the dop tranq at the same time. You may put four, five shots or inhalants of the Narcan in and it does nothing,” he said.

Bevell says it’s twice as deadly as fentanyl alone, but tranq dope deaths are widely underreported. “It’s not being blamed on it because the medical examiners are not testing for it,” he said.

Detox specialist Shannon Weir says they don’t typically test for it because it’s expensive. But they can always tell when someone is using the new drug. “They’re more severe, and we are having different symptoms that we typically wouldn’t see. It can make them off balance, so they don’t walk right with their gate; they can have some cognitive issues,” Weir said.

Many are taking it without even knowing. “It enhances the euphoria; it enhances the high. Drug dealers are always trying to enhance the high, make it bigger and better and stronger. It’s in there, but because it’s odorless, you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you really can’t taste it,” Bevell explained.

Bevell also says he’s observed many people using this drug with big, weeping wounds. That’s because the tranquilizer can impact the body’s ability to heal. Weir says if you or a loved one needs detox, help is available. For more information, click/tap here.