Flesh-eating street drug common in Russia now in U.S.


Krokodil, Russian for “crocodile,” is a street drug used as a cheap substitute for heroin. The drug is referred to as “krokodil” because it causes sores, tissue damage and rough, scale-like appearance on the skin.

Two cases involving the drug have surfaced here in the U.S. at the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix. Health officials are warning anti-drug advocates and other medical personnel who fear use of krokodil might spread. According to Dr. Frank LoVecchio, co-medical director at Banner Poison, Drug and Information Center, as they warned other poison centers around the country about ‘krokodil,’ some revealed they also had patients suffering from its apparent use.

The drug is made mixing codeine with other ingredients such as gasoline, paint thinner, iodine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorous. The concoction is then cooker for up to 30 minutes. It is often used as a substitute for heroin, as it has roughly similar effects but is three times cheaper than the opiate and it is far easier to obtain due the ingredients being common in every household. The life expectancy of users is far shorter than those who use other drugs. Doctors in Russia give a two year maximum live span from start of use of the drug.

Leslie Bloom, CEO of DrugFreeAZ.org, said that despite the drug’s dire consequences, ‘krokodil’ use is not an outbreak to be fearful of:

“We don’t want the public to be alarmed,” she said. “What we want them to be is aware that this is a trend. There are other drug trends, too, that we see from time to time, especially with the synthetic drugs. This is a good reminder and a teaching moment.”

Click here to see some photos of how the drug can eat away at the flesh. Proceed with caution; some photos are graphic.

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