New Drug ‘krokodil’ to US, ‘frightens’ Arizona medics

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Arizona doctors and law enforcement officials are warning the public about a dangerous homemade narcotic that can cause human flesh to quickly decay and drastically reduce users’ life expectancy after the drug surfaced in the US state.

Desomorphine, known in Russia as “krokodil,” or crocodile, is an  extremely toxic drug made from codeine-based pills that are then  mixed with iodine, paint thinner, gasoline, alcohol or oil. The  concoction is injected, leading to a shorter but more powerful  high that’s often found with heroin or morphine use.
While krokodil’s popularity quickly grew in Russia in the recent  decade, as heroin is much more expensive and difficult to obtain,  experts think it has made it to the southwestern United States.
“We’ve had two cases this past week that have occurred in  Arizona,” Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at  Banner’s Poison Control Center, told KLTV. “As far as I know,  these are the first cases in the United States that are reported.  So we’re extremely frightened.”
The drug is known for being heavily addictive, with just one or  two injections needed to get someone hooked, as well as for its  dire side effects.

krokodil russian flesh eating drug

krokodil russian flesh eating drug

With krokodil, users’ skin rots from the inside out, and they  develop what is known as alligator skin, complete with visible  scaly contusions. Long-time krokodil users literally have their  skin fall off the bone due to ruptured blood vessels and damage  to the surrounding tissues.

Irreversible damage to a krokodil addict’s health comes within a  month of starting to use the drug, as the brain and liver also  start to rot, and the limbs become paralyzed. A user’s average  life expectancy does not exceed two to three years.

RIA Novosti / Oleg Zoloto

RIA Novosti / Oleg Zoloto

According to Russian anti-drug activist Yevgeny Roizman, who was  earlier this month elected mayor of Yekaterinburg, krokodil is  now one of Russia’s top homemade drugs.

A controversial public figure, Roizman has for years campaigned  for a ban on the unlimited distribution in Russian drugstores of  codeine-based pills, which he says are widely used by dealers and  addicts to make krokodil. The founder of the City Without Drugs  and Country Without Drugs NGOs, Roizman has described horrific  cases of krokodil use in his blog, saying that for many  young Russians it becomes “the first and the last” drug.

The director of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, Viktor  Ivanov, has admitted that the surge in desomorphine use across  Russia correlated with the sharp increase of drugs containing  codeine in drugstores. A legal ban on the non-prescription sale  of such drugs in Russia came into force in 2012.

According to figures from Russia’s Bureau of Forensic Medical  Examination, cited by Country Without Drugs, deaths in Russia  from drug overdoses in 2012 rose by 20 percent. In total, some  150,000 Russians died from drug use last year, according to  Ivanov, the Drug Control Service chief. Ivanov has estimated that  in some regions of the country 90 percent of registered drug  addicts use krokodil.

The use and preparation of krokodil has been spreading to  countries neighboring Russia and farther into Europe, according  to various media reports. In December 2011, Poland’s Medical  University of Silesia reported at least one death from krokodil  use in Warsaw, and also said cases of the drug being used had  been confirmed in Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, France,  Belgium, Sweden and Norway.

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