MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (PIX11) — The co-owner of Victory Recovery Partners, a network of drug treatment facilities on Long Island, said the animal tranquilizer Xylazine, known as tranq, is showing up more and more in urine tests.

“I think you’d be shocked to find out how deeply this drug has penetrated Long Island,” Dr. Steve Salvatore said at one of Victory’s five facilities in Massapequa Park.

Salvatore used to be a medical anchor at PIX11 News.

Salvatore noted Xylazine rates among clients coming to his centers for testing are staggering.

“We’re seeing anything from 60 to 75 percent when we randomly drug test our people here,” Salvatore said.

The doctor recently opened his fifth facility in Hicksville,

Salvatore is finding that Xylazine is often mixed with drugs like fentanyl or cocaine to lengthen the high.

Xylazine, which was FDA-approved years ago to sedate large farm animals like horses,  has been tainting the national drug supply in recent years and has made major inroads in New York.

The Drug Enforcement Administration told PIX11 News Thursday the number of New York drug seizures containing Xylazine has increased by 586% since 2019.

Merri Eddy, whose 33-year-old son, Travis, died from a drug overdose in February, said his behavior changed in January and she also noticed troubling spots on his hands and feet.

“It was like a sore, an ulcer,” Merri Eddy said.  “It wasn’t healing.”

Sores are commonly associated with Xylazine use, and if the skin tissue starts dying, the necrosis can lead to amputation—or death.

“The misconception is you’re only going to get the sores on the part of your body where you injected,” Dr. Salvatore observed.  “You can get sores on your body even if you snort it.”

Travis Eddy, a talented mechanic with a bright personality, was engaged to Irene Swartz—who was troubled by his erratic behavior early this year.

“The tranq completely changed his behavior,” Swartz said.  “I didn’t know who he was.  When he was on tranq, he was seeing things.”

Xylazine mixed with opioids like fentanyl can also increase the chance of a fatal overdose because both drugs decrease heart rate and respiration. Xylazine is not an opioid, so it doesn’t respond to Narcan, although Narcan can address the fentanyl or heroin part of the overdose.

When Travis Eddy tried to get clean in early February after using multiple types of drugs, he had a serious medical episode.

“All of a sudden, he started having massive seizures, like Grand Mal seizures,” Eddy’s mother recalled.  “He was having trouble talking and talking. It might have been the tranq.”

Travis Eddy got better for a brief period, but on the morning of Feb. 24, emergency responders were summoned to a bathroom in his mother’s house. They managed to revive Eddy from an overdose with two applications of Narcan.

Yet by the afternoon, Travis Eddy was dead, kneeling on the floor in his bedroom, found by his mother and fiancee’.

“The door was locked, and we’re pounding and we’re screaming,” Irene Swartz recalled. “His head was down; we didn’t see his face. He had the belt still wrapped around his arm and the needle. So he must have fallen forward.”

Irene Swartz said sadly that she had fallen in love with the sober Travis, who tried so hard to get clean over the years.

“The average-income person on Long Island cannot afford the help they need to get them out of the addiction,” Her mother, Amy Swartz, a retired schoolteacher, observed.

She said Travis Eddy was extremely bright and her daughter had recognized that.

“Good for her that she had compassion and love in her heart,” Amy Swartz said. “She saw him as a good person.  She saw the side that was loving, kind and fun.”

Travis Eddy’s mother put his ashes in a special urn on the mantle in her living room.

The inscription on the urn says,

“Travis James Eddy.  Beautiful Man.  Loved Always.  11/20/89 – 2/24/23.”


The family will join a walk on Sept. 30 in Travis Eddy’s memory.

The event is called “Long Island United for Recovery.”