A treacherous, life-threatening drug has infiltrated our community.

Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” “tranq dope” and the infamous “zombie drug,” is wreaking havoc in cities around America with its alarming consequences: It can rot a user’s skin.

This additive first emerged in the city of Philadelphia and gradually traveled westward to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Initially, it was used as a heroin-cutting agent, but more recently it has been identified in fentanyl and other illicit substances.

Although it has been sanctioned by the FDA for use on animals, xylazine is not safe for human consumption. Furthermore, an overdose from this non-opioid medication would not be remedied with naloxone (commonly known as Narcan), which is a typical antidote to opioid overdoses.

Xylazine can induce somnolence, weakened breathing, and significant skin lesions that may become extreme and quickly spread with continuous contact. These dry scabs have the potential to form dead tissue known as eschar, potentially necessitating amputation if left unattended.

Since it doesn’t appear on either the human or animal controlled substance lists, “tranq” is deeply disturbing and resides in an ambiguous gray area. Unsurprisingly, medical facilities do not have a toxicology screening that tests for this particular drug as part of their standard procedure.

Last month, a Philadelphia user experienced the sudden emergence of xylazine-induced lesions around the areas where they had previously injected opioids.

“I’d wake up in the morning crying because my arms were dying,” 39-year-old Tracey McCann told the New York Times.

The city’s recent lab tests of illicit substances from 2021 have revealed that a staggering 90% contained xylazine, significantly raising the risk for overdose when combined with other drugs.

Xylazine has become a popular drug due to its lethal combination of substances that provide a prolonged high when taken with opioids such as fentanyl, making for quite an intoxicating experience.

“It’s too late for Philly,” Shawn Westfahl, an outreach worker with Prevention Point Philadelphia, said. “Philly’s supply is saturated. If other places around the country have a choice to avoid it, they need to hear our story.”

Individuals struggling with substance use disorders who become dependent on this mind-numbing drug experience a complete elimination of the pleasure they once derived from using.

“Tranq is basically zombifying people’s bodies,” Sam, 28, told Sky News. “Until nine months ago, I never had wounds. Now, there are holes in my legs and feet.”

The concerning “tranq” trend has surged, as the New York City Department of Health reported that 2,668 citizens have perished due to overdoses this year. Professionals caution that xylazine could only amplify the existing drug crisis.

Dr. Gary Tsai, the director of substance abuse prevention and control with the LA County Department of Public Health, warned that if this drug were to become more available it could lead to an “increase deaths from overdoses.”

“The main concern is we’re already amid the worst overdose crisis in history, nationally and locally,” Tsai told the Los Angeles Times.

A 2022 report revealed that xylazine is present in a staggering 36 states across the nation. Incredibly, New York City alone registered 25% of total sample levels, as reported by The Times.

Just this past month, the San Francisco Department of Health revealed that traces of xylazine had been detected in the bodies of four individuals who overdosed – an indication that drugs may contain added substances without users having any awareness.

“It’s possible that it’s more out there,” said Tsai.