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Friday, October 11, 2013

Krokodil Cases Spreading Across America

American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). This p...
Last month, health officials in Arizona reported two cases of people who used the drug “Krokodil” (desomorphine). These were the first reported cases of this extremely dangerous drug, a form of synthesized codeine, in the United States. With all things, word travels fast; now doctors at a hospital in the Chicago suburbs report having treated three people who have used the homemade, caustic, heroin-like drug called krokodil, CBS Chicago reports.

Health officials and addiction professionals have long feared that krokodil would find its way to America. It has been popular in Russia and in the former soviet block countries in the last decade. In Russia, krokodil cooks can acquire codeine (krokodil's base ingredient) tablets over the counter, much like meth cooks buying up the pseudoephedrine supplies at pharmacies in America before restrictions were put in place to limit purchases.

Krokodil makers use all kinds of caustic chemicals to alter the composition of the codeine tablets in order to create desomorphine. Addicts are drawn to krokodil because it costs about three times less than heroin, producing a similar effect, but the high is much shorter.

The scary thing about krokodil is how cooks make the drug, mixing the codeine with gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol or iodine; unfortunately, cooks hurry to produce the drug cutting the purification time to the minimal amount required, not allowing the caustic chemical to leech out before sale.

When the drug is injected, it quickly destroys tissue causing sores and abscesses to occur. When left untreated the skin will begin to fester, blood poisoning and gangrene set in, literally turning the skin scaly and green like a crocodile - hence the drug's name.

Sadly, the drug acts quickly to destroy its host, like a parasite attacking a cell. Documented cases show that krokodil can disable its users in less than a month. A former heroin user is a patient at Presence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois. A 25-year-old who had used heroin for 10 years, she started using krokodil a month ago and is in extremely critical condition, according to CBS Chicago.

Dr. Abhin Singla said, “When she came in, she had the destruction that occurs because of this drug, over 70 percent of her lower body.” He added, “It’s very frightening. It almost immediately starts to destroy blood cells and blood vessels, literally causes gangrene from the inside of the body coming out.” Singla noted the average life expectancy after the first use of the drug is two years in Russia.
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