Use of Animal Tranquilizer Guns in Humans

David Asks:

In my new work in progress I have a woman shot with a tranquilizer gun. She is a former head ER nurse and is on the road. She has a well stocked medical kit. What would she have that could be injected to counteract the tranquilizer? Is there a particular tranquilizer they would use on her? They want her alive.

Jordyn Says:

Thanks so much for sending me your question.

This is an interesting question that you ask. The first part that should be answered is what kinds of drugs are generally used in animal tranquilizer guns. I was fairly surprised to see some of the same drugs we use in humans like opiates (Morphine and Fentanyl.) Interestingly, it looks from this article that the opioid compound used is called M99 which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and one drop is lethal to humans. It is reversible with a drug called Narcan or naloxone.

A second class of drugs that is used in humans also used in animal tranquilizer guns are the benzodiazepines. For humans these would be drugs like valium, ativan and versed. There is a reversal agent for this class of drugs as well. We call it flumazenil.

Two other drugs were listed in the article. Another drug that we use in humans was a substance that is related to ketamine but does not have a reversal agent. The last, azaperone, which is not familiar to me as a drug used in humans and is also not reversible.

If your ER nurse had a well stocked medical kit then she would have the drug naloxone on hand to reverse an opiate drug if that was used in the tranquilizer dart. What’s both interesting and sad about naloxone is that it is becoming readily available to the public because of the drug problem in the USA. So, even if your ER nurse didn’t have a well stocked medical kit she could probably find some as long as the dart didn’t immediately kill the victim. Opiates cause death by inhibiting your respiratory drive. You simply stop breathing. There are certainly other effects but this is the primary one.

The other drug, flumazenil, that reverses benzodiazepines isn’t as readily available so that might not be a great choice for your story.

It’s also important to note that from the article, just as in humans, a combination of drugs might be used. So, naloxone might reverse the opiate but not whatever else is in the syringe. Also, animal darts are likely loaded with more medication that would be more likely to produce toxic and dangerous effects to a human than say a bear.

I hope this answers your question and good luck with your novel!

Author Question: Hallucinogenic Drugs

Kristin Asks:

I am an aspiring young writer who is currently working on a futuristic dystopian novel set during a second Holocaust. The villain is conducting massive Dr. Mengele-like experiments on thousands of people. My question is, is there a known prescription drug that you’ve run across that, once injected into the human bloodstream, could cause disturbing auditory and visual hallucinations and/or nightmares?

Jordyn Says:

Put simply, a hallucination is something a person experiences that others do not see and hear. They can be auditory (hearing) or visual.

Some hallucinations direct a person to do bad things– to hurt or kill themselves and/or others.

There are many drugs that can cause hallucinations. I’m going to link you to a couple of lists.


Kristin is a Christian high school girl in the Midwestern United States and an aspiring writer. She has written numerous poems and short stories, and several half-completed novels. She is currently working on a novel she hopes to complete in the spring, a futuristic dystopian entitled Asylum, written from the perspective of a victim of a second Holocaust who is being held prisoner in a mental hospital in London. Kristin lives at home with her parents, younger siblings, and her mutt dog, Shadow. She spends most of her free time writing or studying Spanish and Mandarin.