JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Local law enforcement is concerned with a relatively new drug on the scene, Xylazine. The drug is an animal tranquilizer that is mixed with common opioids.

Officials said that Xylazine, better known as ” tranq,” is quickly spreading throughout the country, and it’s already been found within the city of Jacksonville.

“For the city, we have three cases, three active cases,” said Dr. Tobi Gilbert, psychologist and police crisis counselor for Jacksonville Police Department.

The controlled substance is often mixed with cocaine, fentanyl and heroin, with many people not even knowing it’s in what they’re buying.

“They’re using these other types of drugs to cut the potency because it is cost-effective for the drug dealers, drug makers,” said Gilbert. “In the end, it all comes down to money.”

The concoction gives users an increased sedated effect, lowering their heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. It will also slowly eat away at the skin, earning the name “the zombie drug”.

“Skin wounds, lots of wounds, particularly on the forearms and on the limbs. That basically becomes what we call necrosis or the dying of the skin. So the open wound, if not treated appropriately, will turn black and start to continue eating at your skin,” Gilbert added.

The most concerning for officials, Narcan will block the effects of the opioids it’s mixed with, but not the Xylazine itself.

“If somebody is Narcanned and they come back after an overdose, and they go right back in it, now they’re gonna get double Xylazine because the other stuff was still in their system. So that, to me, is what makes it so incredibly dangerous,” said Gilbert. 

Law enforcement officials add there’s a fear of it spreading throughout the rest of Eastern North Carolina, and more cases will pop up.

“As long as you know, the people that are making these drugs, or mixing these drugs are making money, they’re gonna keep doing it,” added Gilbert.

Officials in Carteret County said that so far, they haven’t seen any confirmed cases, but believe Xylazine is spreading throughout the state.