More than 90 percent of the heroin being used by drug addicts in Philadelphia is now mixed with xylazine, or "tranq" as it is locally known. Photos and videos of Kensington show the streets littered with used needles, syringes and other drug-related paraphernalia. Drug users would also shoot up heroin in broad daylight. (Related: Horse sedative street drug killing thousands in Philadelphia and other US cities.)
Fox News reporter Sara Carter walked through the streets of Kensington and other Philadelphia neighborhoods for a segment of "Hannity" and reported witnessing untold numbers of people shooting up a variety of illicit substances out in the open.
Carter also recounted watching parents meet their children at their school bus stops and attempting to avoid encountering addicts on the way home.
"Mothers, walking with their children, trying to navigate them around the drug usage, around the drug dealers," she said. "And I thought to myself, as a parent, you know, this is someone's child. This girl is on the street, but she is someone's child… These are Americans that are dying on the streets."
Carter even interviewed an addict who agreed that they can best be described as "zombies."
"We are people – we are. But we're also zombies," said the addict, who has been living in Kensington's streets for about five years. "We're the living dead out here. It's terrible."
"I've never seen human beings remain in these kinds of conditions," said Sarah Laurel, CEO of Savage Sisters Recovery, a substance abuse outreach non-profit in Philadelphia. "They have open, gaping wounds. They can't walk, and they tell me, 'If I go to the hospital, I'm going to get sick.' They're so terrified of the detox."
Unlike with most opioids, there are no federally approved treatments specifically for dealing with xylazine withdrawal. Drug users in Philadelphia are reporting severe wounds and painful withdrawal symptoms, and they are not responding well to current treatments tried by Savage Sisters and other outreach and health organizations.
"There's so much fear of withdrawal," said Stephanie Klipp, a harm reduction nurse with recovery support organization Unity Recovery. "The system is not well educated on how to treat these wounds."
"We'll start treating for opioid withdrawal, and they should be getting better – but we'll see chills, sweating, restlessness, anxiety, agitation," said Philip Moore, chief medical officer for Gaudenzia, a non-profit treatment provider. "They're very, very unpleasant symptoms. That's what triggers us that we're dealing with a more complicated withdrawal now that there's more xylazine in the mix."
Echoing Klipp's concerns, Moore noted that many health practitioners working with people attempting to recover from drug abuse are unfamiliar with the symptoms of xylazine withdrawal.
"If we don't recognize xylazine withdrawal, patients are really uncomfortable and they'll leave treatment because they don't feel like they're getting better."
Learn more about America's drug epidemic at Addiction.news.
Watch this ride through Kensington, Philadelphia and see how it looks like a scene out of a zombie apocalypse movie.