Photo: Isopix/REX USA.If you hadn't heard of krokodil until now, consider yourself lucky. The Russian-born heroin substitute with disturbing — and sometimes deadly — side effects has allegedly made its way to two US states. Two weeks ago, the Banner Poison Control Center in Arizona reported two cases of the drug, which causes extreme gangrene and abscesses so deep that muscle and bone become exposed. Now, a doctor at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in the Chicago suburb of Joliet claims that he's treating three young women who are believed to have taken the drug. “If you want to kill yourself, this is the way to do it,” Dr. Abhin Singla told the The Herald-News. He's not kidding.
Krokodil, also known as desmorphine, is a home-made cocktail of codeine and other substances like gasoline or paint-thinner to create an injectable drug. It's far cheaper than heroin, which is less available in Russia, and the high is far more potent, though it only lasts a few hours. But the appeal for addicts end there. The chemicals involved in its manufacture rapidly destroy blood vessels and tissue near injection sites. Flesh literally rots from the inside out.
The drug's appearance in America is yet to be confirmed on the federal level, though. DEA spokesperson Dawn Dearden told Refinery29, "We have not seen any cases [of krokodil.] We are not seeing it in any of our labs." But is the agency worried about the potential spread of the drug in the U.S.? "Are we concerned about it? Absolutely, we'd be concerned if this does turn out to be krokodil." The DEA is not investigating the cases in Illinois and Arizona, however, because they are local matters, not federal ones.