Tranq Dope: Dangers Of Injecting Heroin Cut With Xylazine

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022

Tranq dope is the street name for a powerful drug that is a mixture of heroin, fentanyl, and xylazine. When abused, it may cause painful blisters on the skin and extremities that result in disfigurement.

Dangers Of Tranq Dope

Of the 70,630 drug overdose deaths in the United States that occurred in 2019, over 70 percent were attributed to an opioid. These figures continue to rise since the COVID-19 pandemic.

While synthetic opioid-involved deaths continue to rise, due to shortages of fentanyl many drug dealers have found other adulterants and cutting agents to mix with heroin.

One such adulterant is a tranquilizer called xylazine, used on animals such as elk, horses, dogs, and rats for its analgesic and muscle relaxant properties.

When xylazine is cut with heroin and fentanyl, it may cause a range of side effects including painful skin blisters, long periods of sedation, and accidental overdose.

Here, you will learn more about:

  • what tranq dope is and where it’s primarily used
  • how people abuse tranq dope
  • dangers and side effects of tranq dope use
  • other injectable illicit drugs that pose a risk of overdose
  • treatment programs for substance use disorders

What Is Tranq Dope?

Xylazine is an FDA-approved animal tranquilizer that is not safe for human use. The use of xylazine among humans has contributed to several injuries and deaths according to medical examiners.

Tranq dope is a combination of heroin, fentanyl, and the sedative xylazine that is prominently found on the illicit drug supply in Connecticut, Philadelphia, Ohio, Maryland, New York, and Puerto Rico.

While xylazine is not an opioid, it does exhibit many of the same physical effects of opioids such as fentanyl. When taken, people describe the experience as extremely disorienting and sedating.

How Is Tranq Dope Abused?

To obtain and sell tranq dope, a dealer must first have access to the prescription animal sedative xylazine. The medication typically comes in an injectable liquid form.

The xylazine is then mixed with fentanyl and heroin, heated in a spoon or other receptacle, and injected into a vein or muscle.

Why People Use Tranq Dope

When tranq dope is used, it produces extremely strong sedative effects that may make a person remain unconscious for hours at a time.

Many people who use injectable drugs have reported that they don’t like the effects of tranq dope due to these effects, and will actively avoid buying bags of heroin cut with “tranq”.

Others have stated that they prefer the extended high provided by tranq dope, and will keep quantities of the drug in their supply specifically for their “nighttime hit” before sleep.

Dangers Of Tranq Dope Use

One of the most disturbing effects of using tranq dope are the lesions that appear on the limbs and other body parts after prolonged abuse of the drug.

These wounds are not confined to the area of injection, appearing randomly throughout the body due to unknown contaminants in the tranq dope. Oftentimes, the ulcers are so severe they require amputation of the infected extremity.

Toxicology reports of tranq dope indicate that other side effects include blurred vision, drowsiness, bradycardia (slowed heart rate), respiratory depression, and coma.

Other Injectable Drugs Similar To Tranq Dope

While tranq dope has gained notoriety in recent years due to its powerful and disfiguring effects, there are several other injectable drugs that are equally harmful or deadly when ingested.

Injectable drugs similar to tranq dope include:

  • carfentanil — An ultra-potent synthetic opioid drug only intended for veterinary medicine that can cause overdose death in humans in small doses.
  • fentanyl — A synthetic opioid many times more powerful than morphine. It is commonly used as a cutting agent in heroin batches and is responsible for several thousand fatal fentanyl overdoses every year.

Treatment Options For Substance Use Disorder

Help is available if you or a loved one are addicted to opioids or other illicit drugs. Below you will find some of the evidence-based treatments available at a drug rehab center.

Treatment services for drug use may include:

Substances such as opioids may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It’s important that you seek the assistance of a healthcare professional before attempting to quit using drugs cold turkey.

Find A Rehab Facility For Substance Abuse

For more information about opioid overdose or other related issues, contact our helpline today. Our team can assist you in finding an addiction treatment provider in your area.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022
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