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California has long been at the forefront of the national conversation on drug use and opioid addiction. Now, a new and terrifying threat has emerged on the streets of Los Angeles: Xylazine (commonly called tranq), a veterinary tranquilizer known as the “zombie drug” due to its devastating effects on its users. 

This essay will break down everything Californians need to know about Xylazine and its dangers when mixed with opioids. We’ll also discuss the impact it has on both mental and physical health and where addicts can find treatment in California.

The Rise of the “Zombie Drug” and Why It’s Deadlier

Xylazine is a powerful sedative medication used primarily on large animals like horses and cows. It’s not supposed to be on the streets, but its cheap price and ability to intensify opioid highs have made it a dangerous additive in the illegal drug market.

Another reason why the zombie drug is on a massive rise is the false sense of security it provides. Some users mistakenly believe Xylazine itself is less potent than other opioids. 

This misconception often leads them to engage in risky practices such as taking higher doses or using Xylazine in combination with other drugs. 

Also, the combination of Xylazine with other drugs can produce unpredictable and highly dangerous effects. This unpredictability makes it difficult for users to gauge the intensity of the high and increases the chances of a user overdosing on it. 

Xylazine’s Impact on Mental Health

Xylazine eats past the physical body and goes as far as leaving a mark on a person’s mental health. Here are some of the significant psychological effects the zombie drug can cause: 


One of the most concerning aspects of Xylazine is its ability to create an even stronger dependence than opioids alone. This happens for a few reasons. 

First, Xylazine interacts with the brain’s reward system in a similar way to opioids. However, it also affects other chemicals in the brain, which can lead to a more intense craving for the drug and a feeling of needing it just to feel normal.

Second, quitting Xylazine is incredibly difficult. On top of the usual withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and muscle cramps you get with opioids, Xylazine withdrawal can also include intense agitation, trouble sleeping (insomnia), tremors, and severe cravings for the drug itself. 

The fear of experiencing these withdrawal symptoms can be a major obstacle to quitting. People are scared of how bad they’ll feel, so they keep using Xylazine just to avoid the withdrawal. 

The mental health problems it causes, like hallucinations and trouble thinking clearly, can make it difficult for people to even realize they’re addicted and need help. All of this simply traps them in a dangerous cycle of abuse.

Psychosis and Cognitive Decline

Xylazine doesn’t just make people dependent, it also messes with their minds in scary ways. Studies show a strong link between Xylazine use and psychosis, a mental illness where people see or hear things that aren’t real (hallucinations) and believe things that aren’t true (delusions). 

This can be terrifying. People might hear voices that are mean or critical, feel like they’re constantly being watched, or develop strange beliefs that make it hard to tell what’s real.

On top of that, regular Xylazine use can mess with your memory, focus, and ability to make good decisions. This decline can seriously impact your daily life, making it hard to hold a job, keep relationships strong, or manage your money.

Worsening Existing Mental Illness

People struggling with addiction already have a higher chance of getting mental health problems; Xylazine just makes things worse. It can take existing conditions like depression and anxiety and make them much harder to deal with

People might feel even more hopeless and down than before. This can lead them back to using drugs as a way to cope, which just traps them deeper in the addiction cycle.

For people with PTSD, Xylazine can be especially cruel. This drug can bring back hallucinations and flashbacks, retraumatizing them and making it even harder to manage their PTSD symptoms.

Physical Dangers of Mixing Xylazine with Opioids

In a bid to maximize the effect of Xylazine and experience the ultimate high, drug users in Los Angeles and beyond have begun to combine it with opioids. 

Xylazine and Fentanyl are the most common combinations. As we know, Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and becomes even more dangerous when mixed with Xylazine. 

Here are the potential physical dangers of this combination:

Respiratory Depression

Both Xylazine and opioids slow down breathing. When combined, they can severely depress the respiratory system, making it difficult for the body to take in enough oxygen. Suffocation and death are the most common results of this side effect.

Circulatory Problems and Tissue Damage

Xylazine is also known to constrict blood vessels, thereby reducing blood flow to vital organs. This lack of oxygen can damage tissues and organs, leading to serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Increased Risk of Infection

The damaged tissues from Xylazine injections give bacteria ample space to breed. Addiction itself weakens the immune system, so it’s unlikely for the body to be able to fight off these bacteria on its own. 

What’s worse is that the bacteria can be difficult to treat with antibiotics due to potential bacterial resistance.

Organ Damage

Using this deathly combination for an extended period can cause long-term organ damage. Because of the reduced blood flow and insufficient oxygen, your internal organs are likely to undergo scarring and impaired functionality.

Long-term Mental Impairment

The use of xylazine and fentanyl has been shown to contribute to cognitive decline and problems with memory, focus, and decision-making. This can significantly impact a person’s ability to function in daily life. 

Potential for Overdose 

Naloxone, the medicine that usually helps people who overdosed on opioids, might not work well for Xylazine. This makes it harder for doctors and nurses to save someone who overdosed on a mix of Xylazine and opioids.

How Xylazine Abuse Affects Relationships and Communities

Xylazine abuse isn’t just a personal struggle; it has a profound impact on the people and places around the addicted individual. Here are some of the ways addiction affects relationships and communities:

Broken Trust and Strained Relationships

Imagine living with someone whose behavior changes constantly and who you can’t trust to be honest. This is the reality for many families struggling with Xylazine addiction.

A Xylazine addiction can cause unpredictable mood swings, paranoia, and hallucinations. This erratic behavior can be frightening and confusing for family members, especially children. 

The desperate need for the drug can also lead to lying and stealing to support the addiction. Addiction is expensive. Users often spend a significant amount of money on drugs, leaving little left for essential needs like food and rent. 

This financial burden strains family budgets and can lead to homelessness.

Lost Friendships and Social Isolation

The physical and mental changes caused by Xylazine can lead to social withdrawal. 

People struggling with addiction may lose interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. They may also isolate themselves from friends and family to hide their drug use.

An addict will find it difficult to maintain friendships. Their erratic behavior, broken promises, and constant need for money can break trust and lead to arguments.

Friends may eventually give up on someone struggling with Xylazine addiction, fearing the negative impact on their own lives.

Increased Crime and Public Safety Concerns

The desperation for money to support Xylazine addiction can lead to an increase in property crimes like theft and robbery. Imagine someone needing money for drugs and resorting to stealing to get it – that’s how Xylazine fuels crime rates.

Apart from this, the surge in Xylazine overdoses is placing a significant strain on emergency services. First responders usually have to spend more time reviving individuals from overdoses. 

Because of this, they’re often left with less time to respond to other emergencies such as a person having a heart attack or other urgent medical situation.

Let Still Water Wellness Help You Break Free!

Xylazine’s grip on Los Angeles is strong, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Addiction is a treatable disease, and help is available. If you or someone you love is struggling with Xylazine or any other form of opioid addiction, there is hope. Treatment programs that address both the physical and mental health aspects of Xylazine addiction can help individuals embrace recovery and route back to a healthier, rewarding life. 

Still Water Wellness, located in beautiful Southern California, offers personalized treatment plans for opioid addiction, including those involving Xylazine.

Our team of highly trained therapists and psychiatrists understand the complexities of Xylazine addiction. They’ll work with you to explore the underlying reasons for your drug use and develop coping mechanisms to prevent relapse. When needed, medication-assisted treatment can also be part of your recovery plan.

Our name, Stillwater Wellness, reflects our philosophy. Just as still water allows you to see your reflection clearly, we aim to help you rediscover your true self. Our facility offers opportunities for nature hikes, group therapy sessions outdoors, and walks on the beach. These experiences foster a connection with nature and promote a sense of peace and well-being.

Taking that first step is often the hardest. If you’re ready to break free from Xylazine and reclaim your life, Still Water Wellness is here to support you. Their caring and experienced staff will guide you every step of the way. 

Reach out to Still Water Wellness today and begin your journey towards a brighter and healthier future. For admissions, contact here.


About Clint Kreider

Clint earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology in 2012. With 5 years in drug and alcohol treatment and 8 years in private practice, he specializes in helping clients uncover obstacles to living their envisioned life. Leveraging his experience, Clint supports clients in finding the motivation to make meaningful life changes. Follow him on: Linkedin Get support : Clint Website