Public health experts have begun to sound the alarm about a powerful substance called tranq that is having a catastrophic impact on recreational drug users in communities throughout the United States. As the use of tranq spreads across the country, increased awareness of its presence and its dangers is a literal life-or-death concern.
What is the New Drug Called “Tranq”?
Tranq is the street name of a drug called xylazine. The nickname tranq alludes to the fact that xylazine is a central nervous system depressant that functions as a sedative analgesic, or a tranquilizer. The drug is also sometimes referred to as tranq dope.
Xylazine is authorized in the United States only as a veterinary medicine. It is not approved for any use on humans.
People who abuse tranq may do so by swallowing the drug in pill or capsule form, snorting it as a powder, or dissolving it into a solution and injecting it.
Dangers of Tranq
Some people may abuse tranq in a misguided attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of a physical or mental health concern. Others may do so in search of a recreational high. Still others abuse tranq without even realizing it, as some illicit drug manufacturers add it to heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids. Evidence suggests that this last cause of tranq abuse – the accidental ingestion of tranq that has been surreptitiously added to other drugs – is extremely common.
Regardless of why a person abuses this drug, the potential dangers include the following:
- Slowed heart rate
- Depressed respiration
- Lower blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe skin infections
One of the many concerns about tranq abuse is that naloxone (Narcan) does not have the same effect on tranq overdoses as it does on opioid overdoses. Here’s why this is such a problem:
- Narcan can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. This means that, when a person overdoses on an opioid, their life can be saved if they receive Narcan in a timely manner.
- Since a tranq overdose can look similar to an opioid overdose (and because tranq is often combined with opioids), the first response to a tranq overdose may be the administration of Narcan.
- Even after Narcan is administered, tranq can continue to suppress a person’s breathing.
- By the time responders realize that the Narcan administration did not have its expected effect, it may be too late to save the person who has overdosed.
Desired Effects of Using Tranq
People who abuse tranq may be seeking the same type of effects as they could get from opioids:
- Easing of pain
Even if a person does not overdose or experience other harmful physical effects from using tranq, experts have warned that its powerful sedative effects can lead to serious unintended consequences. When a person is under the influence of this drug, they may be incapacitated for an extended period. This can render them powerless to resist being assaulted, robbed, raped, or otherwise victimized.
What to Do if You Accidentally Use Tranq Dope
If you suspect that you or someone else has accidentally ingested tranq dope, you should seek immediate medical attention.
As noted in a Sept. 17, 2021, report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), no recommended antidote for tranq overdose currently exists. However, proper medical attention may increase a person’s chances of survival and minimize their risk for lasting damage.
For example, medical attention can address tranq-related harm such as skin ulcers and abscesses which, if left untreated, can progress to a point where amputation is required.
Can Tranq Addiction be Cured?
Tranq addiction is a treatable condition. However, addiction is a chronic disease. This means that the goal of effective treatment for an addiction to tranq or another substance isn’t to cure the condition, but to empower the individual to successfully manage their symptoms. Living a healthier life without falling back into the self-defeating habit of tranq abuse is known as being in recovery.
When a person receives professional treatment for tranq addiction, they may take part in a variety of therapies and support services. These elements of care can help them accomplish the following:
- Gain important information about the disease of addiction and the process of recovery
- Identify their triggers, which are the situations and circumstances that can push a person into tranq abuse
- Acquire strategies for avoiding triggers or responding to them in a healthier manner, without resorting to tranq abuse
- Practice conflict resolution, stress management, and effective communication skills, all of which can support their continued recovery
- Repair relationships that were harmed by their tranq addiction
- Share support with other members of the recovery community
- Connect with community-based resources and organizations that will support their continued recovery
- Develop a functional personal support network
Begin Addiction Treatment in Palm Springs, California
Untreated tranq addiction can have a devastating impact on your body and mind. The potential negative effects of compulsive tranq abuse include overdose and death. But when you get the right type and level of care from a trusted provider such as Phoenix Rising, you can regain control of your behaviors and live a healthier and more hopeful life.
Treatment options at our tranq addiction treatment center in Palm Springs, California include detox, residential care, and multiple outpatient options. In every program, you can expect to receive personalized services and compassionate support from a team of skilled professionals. Visit our Contact page or call us today to learn more.