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'I found him face down on the floor': The deadly rise of Xylazine-laced Fentanyl in N.E.W.

Posted at 8:23 PM, Dec 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-08 11:27:37-05
  • Xylazine-laced fentanyl is claiming lives at a rate 10x that of street fentanyl
  • The synthetic drug, approved for veterinary use, extends the effects of fentanyl, making it even deadlier
  • A local mother shares the heartbreaking story of losing her son to a fentanyl overdose
  • Multiple resources for addiction and recovery in Northeast Wisconsin, recommended by a local recovered addict.

Charlene Beaumia, a grieving mother, shares the story of losing her son, Josh, to opioid addiction. Josh's tragic overdose at the age of 32 serves as a stark reminder of the profound impact of addiction, classified as an illness by those who witness its grip firsthand.

"So he lost the tips of his fingers. He lost eyesight," she says "The doctors told him straight out it was because of using."

"I came in here and I find I found him face-down on the floor on his knees and his face was just flat on the floor. And I just picked him up and rolled him over to where he was lying like this. And, I said just started screaming his name and I couldn't stop," says Beaumia tearfully. She tells NBC 26, his cause of death was due to fentanyl-laced drugs.

According to the CDC, the year 2021 witnessed 108,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, with 75% attributed to synthetic opioids.

Lt. Matthew Ronk, Director of the Brown County Drug Task Force, reveals a disturbing trend in the opioid crisis - the infiltration of Fentanyl with Xylazine, a potent horse tranquilizer.

The synthetic drug, approved for veterinary use, extends the effects of fentanyl, making it even deadlier.

"Prior to xylazine-laced fentanyl, they're already six out of 10 pills have the potentially lethal dose, so it's becoming more deadly. And if six out of 10 doesn't scare you, I envision a day where 10 Out of 10 pills contain the potentially lethal dose," says Lt. Ronk.

Xylazine, commonly known as "tranq" or "tranq dope," is a powerful sedative approved by the FDA for veterinary use. As per the DEA, last year saw a significant percentage of seized fentanyl powder and pills containing xylazine. The U.S. government has declared this combination as an emerging drug threat, and it has been found right here in Wisconsin, claiming lives at a rate ten times higher than conventional street fentanyl.

Deadly evolution of fentanyl: The shocking rise of Xylazine-laced opioids in Wisconsin

Eric Lafave, a recovering addict, emphasizes the shifting drug supply from organic to synthetic substances due to ease of production. Despite facing near-fatal overdose scares, Lafave broke free from the cycle of opioid addiction. He warns about the synthetic drugs infiltrating neighborhoods and the profit-driven motives behind their production.

Lt. Ronk stresses the importance of education in combating this new wave of the opioid crisis. He emphasizes that understanding the gateway drugs, such as cigarettes, is crucial to preventing further escalation.

Charlene Beaumia urges compassion for those battling addiction, emphasizing that they are human beings, not inherently bad or worthless. She shares her pride in her son's daily struggle against addiction, imploring society to recognize the human side of those trying to get sober.

"I'm so proud of my son. He woke up every day to fight that battle. And he has a daughter that loved him so much. And I know this is just I know, he hates that he had left her. But I really feel that he couldn't stop."

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are so many resources available here in northeast Wisconsin.

Adult & Teen Challenge Northeastern Wisconsin, A Men's faith-based residential addiction recovery center.
211, The Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline.
Manna For Life, a Thrift store and ministry in Brown County, has multiple resources for those searching for recovery.
The Jackie Nitschke Center: Serving adults and families facing the struggles of substance addiction and mental health challenges.
LaFave also recommends;
The Darjune Foundation- Recovery, Support and Services.
CORE Treatment Services Inc (Manitowoc)
Willow Creek Behavioral Health- (Green Bay) specializes in inpatient & outpatient mental health services.