Horrific footage shows the devastating toll the “tranq” drug epidemic has had on addicts in Philadelphia.
The Kensington neighborhood — made infamous by its open-air drug market — is seen completely packed with the slumped-over and passed-out drug users in the video posted to TikTok by urbanvisuals2.0.
The harrowing clip comes as the “City of Brother Love” struggles with the rising use of the drug Xylazine, or “tranq,” which is a deadly sedative used to enhance the effects of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.
The drug is so potent the White House recently declared it an “emerging threat.”
Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, issued the warning last month.
Philadelphia health officials say the city has been greatly impacted by the epidemic.
“Xylazine has hit Philadelphia particularly hard, causing increased overdose deaths as well as severe wounds that can lead to sepsis and amputation,” the Philadelphia Department of Health and Board of Health said in a joint statement last month. “As a result, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has been working closely with partners across the city to address this new aspect of the drug overdose epidemic.”
Meanwhile, community aid workers say they have seen the visceral effects of the drug first-hand.
Sarah Laurel, founder of harm reduction nonprofit Savage Sisters, said there has been increase use of xylazine over the last four years.
“And we are now left with individuals that have open gaping ulcers, infections, some necrotic tissue, and that leads to amputation,” Laurel told NPR.
Laurel said she and her colleagues began carrying oxygen because of the number of drug users she found unresponsive.
“Nobody asked for this,” she added. “When you are a person who is purchasing drugs from the criminal drug market, you get what you get, and you don’t get upset. I don’t think that anybody knew that it would have this catastrophic effect.”
The Kensington neighborhood has also been a special focus among some candidates running to be the city’s next mayor, with some suggesting a crackdown.
Former City Councilmember Allan Domb, who is now running for office, called the problem an “issue of supply and demand” during a public health forum held last month, WHYY reported.
“We’ve allowed Kensington to be a containment site — like, it’s OK to go there and do drugs and sell drugs there. It’s unacceptable,” he said.
Another candidate, Helen Gym, who served on the city council until last year, said she planned to end Kensington’s drug trade if elected mayor.
“It’s not just about making bad things go away. It’s restoring neighborhoods for neighbors, making sure that our parks and [recreation] centers, libraries, and civic and public spaces come back to life,” she said, adding that she would lead a “coordinated effort to make sure that we also end the open-air drug markets” if elected.