Flesh-rotting ‘Krokodil’ Drug Emerges in USA

New reports suggest drug users in America have begun using a notorious, flesh-destroying drug that originated in Russia.

Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at the Banner Good Samaritan Poison & Drug Information Center,said that Arizona health officials have seen two cases during the past week. Photo: Reneek/ Flickr

A homemade drug that causes severe damage to the flesh of those who use it has reportedly shown up in the U.S.

Known on the street as Krokodil, the caustic homemade opiate is made from over-the-counter codeine-based headache pills mixed with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol.

The drug is believed to be even more dangerous than heroin and has disturbing side effects. When it’s injected, the concoction destroys a user’s tissue, turning the skin scaly and green like a crocodile. Festering sores, abscesses and blood poisoning are common, says the USA Today.

In recent years drug enforcement programs in Europe have become much more effective and have made it increasingly difficult to obtain heroin. Heroin users in Europe have been turning to Krokodil in alarming numbers to satisfy their addictions. And there are now reports of Krokodil addiction here in the U.S.

Earlier users of krokodil – or desomorphine – have only been found in large numbers in Russia, where 65 million doses of the opiate have been seized during the first three months of this year alone, reported Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service.

However, in an interview with Arizona’s KLTV, Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at Banner’s Poison Control Center, said the U.S. now had its first two recorded cases of the use of desomorphine.

The first cases of a terrifying new drug have been reported this week in Arizona – and the state fears the beginning of an epidemic.

Banner’s Poison Control Center most likely encountered the drug when two addicts arrived in emergency rooms with their flesh hanging off their body, exposing bone or with skin resembling that of a crocodile, hence its name.

“We’ve had two cases this past week that have occurred in Arizona,” said Dr. Frank LoVecchio. “As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported. So we’re extremely frightened.”

LoVechhio says that the two cases he has encountered are most likely linked and he declined to comment on the appearance of the two users.

“Where there is smoke there is fire, and we’re afraid there are going to be more and more cases,’”said LoVechhio.

Prevalent in Siberia and the Russian Far East, the explosion of users began in 2002, but over the past five years in Russia, usage has trebled. As the Time reports, in 2010, up to a million people, according to various estimates, were injecting the resulting substance into their veins in Russia, thus far the only country worldwide to see it grow into an epidemic.

THe drug became popular in Russia because heroin can be difficult to obtain and is expensive. It costs three times less, and the high is similar to heroin though much shorter, usually 90 minutes.

Krokodil is so addictive that most people never recover. Reports of people continuing to shoot up until their flesh has completely rotted off of parts of the bodies, until they can no longer even move, until death, are not uncommon.

“Desomorphine kills all of its victims and it kills them very quickly,” one doctor told Pravda.ru. “A heroin addict may live up to six or seven years. The life of a desomorphine addict is much shorter — two years maximum. Some may take it for five years, but many people die after taking their first dose of this drug.”

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