91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Federal officials: New drug making fentanyl epidemic more dangerous

Darwin Brandis/Darwin Brandis - stock.adobe.com

Federal law enforcement officials are warning about a potentially deadly development in Michigan's opioid epidemic.

Xylazine is a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer linked to a growing number of overdose deaths.

The drug mimics the effects of fentanyl and heroin. Xylazine, also known as Tranq, depresses the central nervous system and can cause drowsiness, slow breathing and drop a person’s heart rate and blood pressure to dangerously low levels.

U.S. Attorney Mark Totten says the drug is increasingly being mixed with heroin and fentanyl.

“Xylazine makes the crisis even worse because it is not reversable by naloxone and because of the hideous effects that it can have on those who use it,” said Totten.

Orville Greene is the Special Agent in Charge in the Detroit office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. He says Tranq is cheap.

“That’s also a reason why Xylazine has become so popular in terms of being an adulterant for fentanyl and heroin,” said Greene.

Nationally, overdose deaths linked to Xylazine have been climbing steadily since 2020.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.