A new drug called Krokodil has made it’s way to the United States from Russia and has become more popular than heroin because of it’s cheaper price.
According to a study that was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy this year, experts theorize that the drug first spread across Russia and Ukraine when heroin became less available.
Krokodil is three times cheaper to produce and buy than heroin and the intense high lasts for an hour and a half. It can be easily cooked up in someone’s home much like meth.
EMS World Expo speaker Lynn Riemer says, “There’s huge concern because you make it just like you make meth, but instead of pseudoephedrine you use codein. It’s something you can make at home. It’s an opiate in the heroin family.”
People making Krokodil combine the painkiller codeine with easily available chemicals. They can use iodine; strong alkalies such as Mr. Muscle, a kitchen and bathroom cleaner; hydrochloric acid; red phosphorous from matches; and/or organic solvents such as gasoline or paint thinner, CNN reports as according to the study.
The zombie-like drug, whose name means ‘crocodile’ because of the way it turns users skin scaly black or green, can cause serious damage to veins and soft tissue, followed by gangrene and necrosis, according to the 2013 International Journal of Drug Policy study.
The soft tissue damage happens around the injection site. The drug also clumps in the veins when it fails to dissolve completely in the blood. The clumps make their way to distant places in the body and start to damage more tissue, said Dr. Robert Geller, medical director of the Georgia Poison Center.
Continual use of Krokodil causes blood vessels to burst, leaving skin green and scaly among addicts eventually causing gangrene and their flesh to begin to rot to the bone.
The condition can lead to limbs being amputated, but life expectancy for addicts is at the most two to three years, with the majority dying within a year.
Right now, there are no official confirmed cases of krokodil abuse in the US. To make it official, the Drug Enforcement Administration would need to have a sample of the drug that caused the problem.
Representative Jack Riley released a statement saying: “DEA is very concerned about the recent news that several patients who were treated at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet had symptoms consistent with the use of the drug Krokodil. Our agents and task force officers are on the street canvassing the area, and trying to track down any leads.”
He added, “We want to be pro-active and get out ahead of the curve on this, but until we can get our hands on the drugs and people who are trafficking in it, we won’t know the extent of what we’re dealing with. What we do know is that if this is Krokodil, it is extremely dangerous and we’re doing everything within our authority to stop it.”
There are however been official confirmed cases of krokodil abuse in Russia and Ukraine. An estimated 100,000 in Russia and around 20,000 people in Ukraine are estimated to have injected the drug in 2011, CNN reports.
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Krokodil crosses over to U.S. from Russia
Krokodil, a cheap heroin knockoff drug known for causing scaly, rotting skin, is gaining popularity in the U.S.
Krokodil Drug From Russia
Three patients have been treated this week at a southwest suburban Joliet hospital for using a synthetic opiate that doctors say rots the skin from the inside out. “If you want to kill yourself, (using) this is the way to do it,” said Dr. Abhin Singla, Director of Addiction Services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. Crocodile, which also is spelled Krokodil, started being manufactured about a decade ago in Russia, where heroin is harder to find.