Doctors in the Chicago suburb of Joliet say the number of people hospitalized with symptoms that suggest addiction to the flesh-eating drug krokodil has risen to five, CNN reports. Similar cases have been reported by health care providers in Arizona and Oklahoma.
“It’s a zombie drug‒it literally kills you from the inside out,” said Dr. Abhin Singla of Presence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Joliet. “If you want way to die, this is a way to die.” He added, “I think it’s the tip of the iceberg; I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I think if it stays on the market long enough, you’re going to have people who are desperate addicts that can’t support their heroin habit but can utilize this drug, not really caring about the consequences, and get the same high for a third of the price.”
Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration said it had not seen evidence of krokodil surfacing in the United States, despite reports of people using the drug. Krokodil is a caustic, homemade heroin-like drug that can rot flesh and bone. The drug became popular in Russia about 10 years ago as a cheap replacement for heroin. It costs about three times less than heroin, and produces a similar, but much shorter, high.
Krokodil is made from over-the-counter codeine-based headache pills, mixed with gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol or iodine. When a person injects the drug, it destroys tissue, and turns the skin scaly and green, giving it a crocodile-like appearance. The drug can also cause blood poisoning, festering sores and abscesses.