In the early 2000s, a new drug, Xylazine, appeared in Puerto Rico among drug addicts. The locals called it “anestesia de caballo” or “horse anesthesia”. The nickname was not 100% accurate as it was not an anesthetic but a non-opioid sedative, analgesic and muscle relaxant used in veterinary medicine on large animals such as horses. Veterinarians also use it as an emetic in cats.
It has certain roles in human health. Doctors give it to treat tetanus. Drug dealers love it because they can cut more expensive drugs with it. And it prolongs the high. However, the effects on unsuspecting users can be disastrous.
The drug has since spread across the continent, and researchers first studied it among drug addicts in Philadelphia. As reported by the BMJ:
“The Philadelphia Department of Public Health analyzed data on unintentional heroin and/or fentanyl overdose deaths from the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office over 10 years (2010-2019). Xylazine went from detection in less than 2% of fatal heroin and/or fentanyl overdose cases between 2010 and 2015 at 262 (31%) of the 858 fatal heroin and/or fentanyl overdose cases in 2019.
By 2021, xylazine, known on the street as “tranc”, Was found in 91% of opioid samples in Philadelphia. It has spread to other parts of the country. And the dealers use it in other drugs like cocaine.
“Data from January to mid-June shows that xylazine was present in 28% of drug samples tested by the Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Feed (MADDS), a publicly funded network of community drug control and counseling groups that uses mass spectrometers so people know what’s in sachets or pills bought on the street.
Some areas of the state, including western Massachusetts, see xylazine in 50% to 75% of samples. In Greenfield, it’s a big change from last year, when xylazine wasn’t an issue.
Xylazine, like so many other illicit drugs, has disastrous side effects. This leads to drowsiness which can be disastrous for a user who falls asleep on heroin. People lying in the same place can sustain compression injuries. If they are outside, they may be exposed. When they are outside, they are at risk of being robbed and sexually assaulted without remembering the event. He’s not an opioid, so Narcan, the opioid emergency treatment, is useless against him. And therefore, xylazine ODs are almost always fatal
Perhaps worse, it can cause infections at the injection site. These infections can lead to abscesses. Prolonged use can lead to a lack of oxygenation of the skin and severe ulcers that ooze pus and have a characteristic odor. And in extreme cases can lead to amputation of extremities.
The Tories will use this at some point as further ‘evidence’ that we need a wall along our southern border. As always, they would be wrong. Drugs find their way into the heart of maximum security prisons. And these places are all walls.
Let’s do a thought experiment. For the sake of discussion, we will agree that a wall will block all drug trafficking from Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Who believes that millionaires and billionaires enriched by illegal trade are going to throw their hands in the air and say, “This is it. I’m going to open a chain of laundromats and dollar stores.
Now let’s take it a step further and say that these violent criminals lay down their guns and become small business owners. Who thinks that the lure of billions will not encourage citizens of other countries to jump on the narcotics bandwagon? What about shipping drugs by courier, sea, air and via Canada? Cut off all international sources and home labs will be in every neighborhood.
There is only one way to stop the supply of illegal drugs and stop the traffickers. It is about reducing and eliminating the demand for illicit drugs. And you achieve this by spending the money budgeted to fight drugs exclusively in rehab and curing the conditions that led to addiction in the first place.
I am not an expert in either area. But I think every drug addict should have immediate access to drug treatment whenever they ask for it. The window is narrow. There’s no point in telling someone to come back next week. In addition, rehabilitation must be holistic. Is the drug addict homeless, unemployed or unskilled? What are the psychological deficits that drive them to use drugs? We need to sort them out if we want to create employed, tax-paying citizens who don’t clog up jails and emergency rooms.
We should create effective anti-drug campaigns to stop people from using drugs in the first place. And when I say effective, I mean more than Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” craziness. And the ridiculous fried egg, “it’s your brain on drugs” PSA.
It would not be the first time that the government has mounted effective campaigns against dangerous behavior. MADD has inspired federal and state governments to take drinking and driving seriously. And since 1982, drunk driving deaths have decreased by 45%. And this number does not take into account the increase in the number of kilometers traveled or cars on the road.
In the mid-1960s, 45% of American adults smoke. Today, that figure is 12.5%.
Unfortunately, America’s campaign against illegal drugs has been as futile as its inadequate and essentially non-existent campaign to reduce gun violence and school killings. Americans remain at unnecessary risk of death by gunshot and are 25 times more likely to die from gun violence than citizens of other advanced countries. Why? Because there is a significant portion of the population that makes money doing things the wrong way. Or not take the time to think.
More than 100,000 Americans will die from drug overdoses in 2022. Another C.45.00 will die from gunshot wounds. Any program to make America great again requires adults to employ strategies that reduce so many unnecessary deaths. Democrats retaining the House and securing two Senate seats would be a good start