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Flesh-Eating Drug Krokodil Hits the U.S.

Paint thinner is one of the ingredients used in Krokodil

Paint thinner is one of the ingredients used in Krokodil

Recent reports say that the flesh-eating drug Krokodil, which has terrorized Russia for more than a decade, has made its way to the U.S. The first report of this intravenous drug was found in Arizona back in September. It has also been reported in Illinois and Utah. The drug, which can be deadly, literally eats the flesh from the inside out of the body.

“Krokodil,” which is Russian means “crocodile,” is a cheap heroin knockoff. It gets its name from the scaly gangrene skin that occurs at the injection site. Krokodil damages blood vessels and tissue so much so that a user’s muscles, tendons and bones cane become exposed. Here are some horrific images caused by the drug (warning graphic images).

The drug became popular in Russia during a heroin shortage, and areas struggling with heroin epidemics are particularly vulnerable to the drug. Tolerance causes heroin users to look for cheaper and better highs. The drug, which is also known as desomorphine, is roughly one-tenth the cost of heroin. Desomorphine is a drug that was actually made in the U.S. in the 1930s and sold in Switzerland under the name Permonid. It became widely abused overseas by 2002.

Desomorphine is an opioid (a derivative from morphine) that acts as a strong painkiller and sedative. It is eight to ten times stronger than morphine. Its effects come on quickly but only last for a short period of time. This isn’t what makes krokodil so dangerous though. It’s the chemicals that are used to synthesize the compound that cause the horrific effects. Codeine tablets are combined with substances like gasoline, hydrochloric acid, paint thinner or lighter fluid. These chemicals are what is causing the flesh-eating drug Krokodil to be so dangerous and deadly.

According to the DEA, they have only identified krokodil twice in the U.S., both times forensically in 2004. The Salt Lake Tribune recently noted that although there have been reports of a strong, flesh-eating drug in Utah, no actual cases have been confirmed.

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