The Walking Dead: How is the new ‘zombie’ drug crippling the youth

What is the new zombie drug, and why is it called so?

Initially found in Philadelphia, Xylazine, an FDA-approved drug, subsequently made its way to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is primarily used as a veterinary sedative and analgesic for large animals (mostly mammals) such as horses, cattle, etc. However, despite its intended use, it’s illicitly used as a recreational drug in some parts of the world.

Derived its name, ‘zombie drug’ because of its zombie-like symptoms on the users, including excessive drowsiness and breathing difficulties, which cause users to appear highly sedated.

How does it zombify people?

Xylazine acts on the central nervous system, slowing down brain activity and causing sluggishness, lethargy, and loss of coordination. It also slows people’s breathing and heart rate as well as lowers their blood pressure. In a highly sedated or unconscious state, much like zombies, users move slowly, become unresponsive and lack awareness of their surroundings.

The double trouble

When taken in greater doses, xylazine induces complete unconsciousness due to its tranquillizing effects. When mixed with fentanyl, it is known to increase the ‘hit’ exponentially. These effects of xylazine may cause users to lose consciousness and remain unconscious for several hours, as opposed to the semi-conscious euphoria induced by opioids alone. It is not surprising that those who use drugs in this manner are at an increased risk of harm, such as being vulnerable to sexual assault or being involved in accidents, such as being struck by a vehicle.

The overdose of xylazine is fatal because people do not respond to naloxone, also known as Narcan, the drug most frequently used to reverse an overdose.

The toll of too much

In addition, repeated and continuous exposure to xylazine can lead to the formation of open sores, which can become severe and rapidly spread, leading to amputation in extreme cases.

The recent surge in overdose deaths in the United States has prompted the question of whether xylazine has played a role. A study conducted in 10 cities and states found that in 2015, xylazine was present in less than 1% of overdose deaths, but in 2020, a year that saw a record-breaking number of overdose deaths in the U.S., it was found in 6.7% of cases. In 2021, the number of overdose deaths surpassed 107,000, breaking the record again. While the study does not conclusively attribute the increase in fatalities to xylazine, it is considered to be a contributing factor.1


  1. Friedman J, Montero F, Bourgois P, Wahbi R, Dye D, Goodman-Meza D, Shover C. Xylazine spreads across the U.S.: a growing component of the increasingly synthetic and polysubstance overdose crisis. Drug and alcohol dependence. 2022 Apr 1;233:109380.
Share it with

Similar Articles

Data Privacy Notice

This Privacy Notice shall be read in conjunction with the Privacy Policy to the extent this Notice does not mention or specify the particulars that should have been mentioned or specified relating to the Notice in pursuance of the provisions of the Data Protection Laws as applicable.

On having accessed or visited this Platform you the Noticee hereby voluntarily consent to and take notice of the fact that the personal data, by which or in relation whereto you the concerned Noticee is identifiable, shall be retained, stored, used, and may be processed by the Company for the purpose and in the manner, though legal, found suitable to it for commercial and/or some other reasons. The detailed specificity whereof may be found in the Privacy Policy. The consent provided herein may be withdrawn anytime by you, the Noticee, at its own volition by removing your profile or by writing to us at

As a Noticee, you shall have the right to grievance redressal, in relation to your consent or our use of your personal data, which you may address by writing to us at Should you, the Noticee, thereafter remain unsatisfied or dissatisfied with the resolution provided by us, you, the Noticee, may approach the concerned regulatory authority for the redressal of your grievance.

Thanks for exploring our medical content.

Create your free account or log in to continue reading.

Data Privacy Notice

By using this platform, you consent to our use of your personal data as detailed in our Privacy Policy, and acknowledge that we use cookies to improve your browsing experience