New life-threatening drug surfaces
Russian krokodil eats away at human flesh
Krokodil, a heroin-like drug, has made its way from Russia to the United States within the past few weeks, according to the DEA.
Krokodil, or desomorphine, was first discovered in Russia about 10 years ago and has over three million users hooked. Each year this drug claims the lives of over 30,000 Russian users. In 2011 alone, Russian Drug Services confiscated over 65 million doses of the drug.
The name comes from the observation that it will turn the area around the injection site dark green and scaly, similar to crocodile skin. With extensive use, the drug can cause the user’s skin to melt off completely, leaving behind an open wound that can become badly infected.
The ease to synthesize the drug makes obtaining it even easier. Many users are able to cook the drug in-home, considering it is made up of items that can easily be purchased at local convenience stores. Krokodil is composed of numerous toxic products including codeine, gasoline, alcohol and paint thinner.
The problem with this drug is that it cannot be purified and has dangerous toxins that cannot be cooked off during its creation. This will result in the rotting or scaly skin that user’s experience.
Gangrene, or the death of body tissue, sets in around the injection site and is the cause of the skin discoloration associated with the drug. If a large amount of body tissue is damaged, limb amputation is needed in order to keep the person alive.
Amber Neitzel, one of the five individuals treated recently at Presents St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, told ABC’s WLS-TV that “It almost starts like a burn from a cigarette. It starts purple and then goes into a blister after five or six days.”
Compared to pure heroin, krokodil is described as giving individuals a stronger high, lasting an average of an hour and a half and it is much cheaper to purchase and produce. On average, it costs users $8 per dose, whereas heroin costs anywhere from $25 to $30 per dose.
It has been discovered that drug dealers are actually cooking up this cheaper, more potent heroin-like substance and selling it as heroin in order to make a higher profit. Many users do not know that they are injecting an even deadlier toxin into their bodies. Krokodil is known to be three times more deadly than heroin.
Frequent users of the drug are expected to have a maximum life expectancy of two to three years after they begin using the drug, due to the powerful and harmful chemicals found within.
“It’s a zombie drug — it literally kills you from the inside out,” Dr. Ahbin Singla, addiction specialist, told CNN reporter Jen Christensen. “If you want a way to die, this is a way to die.”
After beginning the drug, it becomes an extremely difficult habit to break. Users know that it is terrible for them but the addictive nature of the drug causes them to stay hooked.
“A few years ago there was [another drug] called cat,” said Valerie Gebhardt, counseling center alcohol and other drug prevention coordinator. “It was made up of battery acid and Draino. For people to go out and take [a drug] that they do not know much about from anybody, to me, is insanity.”
Thus far, there have been confirmed cases of krokodil use in Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona. It is believed that Ohio may have a few cases as well but that is still under investigation.
Illinois has also fallen victim to this drug just weeks after the first cases in Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona were discovered. Five individuals within the Chicago suburb of Joliet have been confirmed as users of the drug.
There have been no confirmed signs of this drug in the Springfield area.
Altogether there have been eight cases of krokodil use confirmed in the U.S. At least two of those cases resulted in death.
Just because there have not been identified cases of this drugs in other states does not mean that it has not spread to them. It is believed that there are at least two New York City nightclubs that have individuals who are distributing the deadly drug to passers by.
Authorities are starting to crack down on dealers and users in hopes to stop the spread of this deadly drug before it becomes out of control and takes additional lives.