Chehalis Rotary Club Hears Presentation on Opioids, Warnings of ‘Zombie’ Drug, ‘Tranq’


Ross McDowell, deputy director of Lewis County Division of Emergency Management and a Rotarian, presented to the Chehalis Rotary Club on Wednesday at the V.R. Lee Building about the opioid crisis in the United States.

Trends in substance use disorders and the substances themselves, he said, often pop up closer to the East Coast and make their way over to the west. McDowell spoke on a drug called “Xylazine,” commonly known as “Tranq” or “Frankenstein.” A veterinary tranquilizer that, especially on the eastern end of the U.S., is being mixed in with heroin, fentanyl and other drugs, the substance causes what McDowell referred to as “zombie” symptoms. 

According to McDowell, and as reported by The New York Times earlier this year, the drug is especially present in Philadelphia.

“Xylazine causes wounds that erupt with a scaly dead tissue called eschar; untreated, they can lead to amputation,” The New York Times reported. “It induces a blackout stupor for hours, rendering users vulnerable to rape and robbery.”

The same story reported the drug is being used to bulk up illicit fentanyl, making its impact “even more devastating.”

In San Francisco, McDowell said four deaths involving the drug have been confirmed recently, and that the rest of the West Coast should be prepared for the coming trend. 

Asked by one attendee “is the high so wonderful that (users) are willing to go through all this?”

McDowell answered that the drive is not rooted in euphoria or attachment to the feeling of being high, but to the addiction that comes from the opioids, such as fentanyl, that are mixed in with Tranq. Ninety percent of people who use heroin and other illicit street forms of opiates, he said, started by using prescription opioids.

He encouraged attendees to obtain and carry Narcan, the brand name of the drug naloxone, which rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose, and demonstrated how to use the life-saving medication if necessary.  

Learn more about the opioid crisis in Washington at