One day you’ll be able to reminisce with your kids about the early cases of krokodil in the US the way your parents gloat about having seen Hendrix perform live. Last month, the first known use of the flesh-eating drug was reported in Phoenix, barely beating out Joliet, IL, where this week three cases of krokodil abuse surfaced at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center.
The Times Weekly of Joliet reports that, since last weekend, St. Joe’s has begun treating the patients, who all reported use of the drug and exhibit symptoms of its use, which can include gangrenous necrotized flesh, green crusty skin and even open bone around which the flesh eventually heals, leaving it permanently exposed. Death typically results within two years.
Dr. Abhin Singla, director of St. Joe’s Addiction Services, said in a news release, “As of late last week, the first cases — a few people in Utah and Arizona — were reported to have been using the heroin-like drug, which rots the skin from the inside out… It is a horrific way to get sick. The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they often are not enough to save limbs or lives.”
As for the appearance of krokodil in Utah, we have no idea what the good doctor’s talking about — there has not yet been confirmation of the drug’s use or effects in the state. However, Deseret News has reported within the last week concerns among some within the Drug Enforcement Agency of krokodil’s impending arrival, given that Phoenix is a “source city” — along with Las Vegas and Los Angeles — for drugs that end up in Salt Lake.
The drug’s primary ingredient — beside gasoline, paint thinner, phosphorous and hydrochloric acid — is codeine, which limits krokodil’s wide-scale production in the US, where the active ingredient can’t be obtained without a prescription. But, as DEA supervisory agent Sue Thomas notes in the Deseret News article, ”Salt Lake City is one of the first stops in the distribution network for drugs leaving Phoenix,” which is “a city that is directly supplied from Mexico.” While a prescription is technically required to obtain codeine in Mexico, the drug trade has been operating largely with impunity there for years.
Joliet’s local Patch site reports that more than 30 people have died from heroin use in surrounding Will County this year alone, constituting an epidemic. With krokodil regarded as a cheaper alternative to heroin, those numbers may get momentarily better before they get exponentially worse.
RYOT NOTE: People do drugs for a lot of reasons, but they’re far outnumbered by the reasons for not doing them. The Partnership at Drugfree.org is dedicated to solving the problem of teen substance abuse, bringing together scientists, parenting experts and communications professionals to empower families to fight teen addiction. Click the gray box beside this story to learn more, donate and Become the News!