CRISIS IN KENSINGTON: If ‘good old-fashioned heroin’ was back, life would be better, says recovering drug addict
This is the fourth story in a series about the outdoor drug market in Kensington. Read it First of all, second And third rooms.
PHILADELPHIA – Rotting flesh. It’s a key indicator that someone is addicted to xylazine, a drug that is sweeping the country. And Kensington, a neighborhood in the City of Brotherly Love, served as ground zero.
“It’s crazy to think… the right option is to pick up some good old fashioned heroin,” Frank Rodriguez, a local attorney, told Fox News. “That s— seems so crazy and strange to say or think.”
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Rodriguez, himself a recover from a heroin addict, said it became difficult for Kensington to mark H that was not cut with fentanyl or xylazine. The latter, a veterinary tranquilizer often called tranq, tranq dope or zombie drugswas ravaging Kensington long before it was identified elsewhere.
A tranq dope cocktail – used to boost fentanyl and sold for half the price of a traditional dose – sends users into a deep stupor, leaving them vulnerable to rape and robbery. When they arrive, they may already be dealing with withdrawal and craving another solution.
The zombie drug also causes excruciatingly painful injuries, including necrosis, which could require amputation if left untreated.
“You literally see people, you know, with sores, their skin falling off their body,” Rodriguez told Fox News. “You could smell the rotting flesh when you walk into a group of a few individuals in the summer.”
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On the arms and legs, the wounds may look like a slice of flesh cut out or perhaps a few minutes old chemical burn. Hands and feet can be swollen almost without realizing it.
Sometimes the sores become hardened tissue. Sometimes they suppurate and ooze.
“The tranquilizer drug literally eats your flesh,” said Brooke Peder, a 38-year-old Kensington resident known as Hood Grandma. The New York Times. His leg had been amputated due to a tranquilizer-induced infection.
“This is self-destruction at its finest,” she said.
Another drug addict, Tracey McCann, told The Times that she saw fleas and maggots covering users’ tranquilizer wounds.
And since xylazine is not an opioid, common treatments for overdose are not effective.
“You give them Narcan and it doesn’t matter because you’re processing the wrong thing,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a completely different ball game now.”
Health experts say to try a single dose of Narcan anyway, because it’s not easy to tell which drug is causing the overdose.
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“The Deadliest Drug-Related Threat”
Almost out of thin air, xylazine flooded Kensington, with the deluge beginning in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Addicts have said they might explode not realizing that xylazine, which can make fentanyl last longer, is mixed into their dose.
“Most people tell me, ‘I wish I could find drugs without xylazine,'” Dr. Joseph D’Orazio, an addiction medicine expert at Temple University Hospital, told The Times.
In 2021, more than 90% of drug samples in Philadelphia contained xylazine, according to city data. And a June study found it had been identified in 36 states and DC
But more recent findings suggest a more serious situation.
THE Drug Enforcement Administration announced in March that the agency found xylazine in 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills. He made seizures in 48 states.
“Xylazine poses the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl even deadlier,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.
In Kensington, xylazine led to a 313% increase in visits to a nearby wound care clinic over a three-year period, according to The Times.
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“A huge impact”
Before xylazine took hold, the neighborhood was already struggling to get a grip fentanyl addiction. Overdose kits can be found scattered around Kensington.
“I remember when heroin was first tainted with fentanyl,” he said. “People would let you know ‘Yo, be careful, it contains fentanyl.'”
“Out of 100 different corners, there could be 10 corners that had heroin cut with fentanyl,” Rodriguez added. “Now you can’t find a bag of heroin without fentanyl in Philadelphia.”
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As dangerous as xylazine is, fentanyl’s own lethality should not be overlooked.
The synthetic opioid can be up to 100 times more potent than heroin and has become a regular staple in the drug overdose epidemic. About two-thirds of the more than 106,000 overdose deaths in 2021 were from synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“Fentanyl had a huge impact on Kensington,” Rodriguez told Fox News. “It’s almost like when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it went up about five or ten notches.”
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