The deadly drug krokodil has made its way into Illinois two weeks after it was reportedly used in Arizona, the Huffington Post reported Wednesday. The often homemade drug, also named crocodile, can lead to extremely severe side effects such as gangrene and even loss of limbs.
Dr. Abhin Singala, a specialist at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in the Chicago suburb of Joliet, told the Huffington Post that he’s treating three krokodil, whose medical name is desomorphine, users.
“As of late as 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,” Singala said in a Tuesday press release quoted by the Huffington Post. "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.”
The drug has been in Russia for nearly a decade, but many people in the U.S. are now hearing about it for the first time. It’s about 10 times cheaper than heroin, the Huffington Post noted, but it’s also three times more deadly. The average life expectancy of a krokodil addict is about three years, KSAZ reported.
The drug gained its street name for the scaly appearance the skin takes on after users fall victim to gangrene. The drug is made from codeine tablets combined with subtances like paint thinner, lighter fluid and gasoline.
"You can feel how disgusting it is when you're doing it," a krokodil addict told The Independent in 2011. "You're dreaming of heroin, of something that feels clean and not like poison. But you can't afford it, so you keep doing the krokodil. Until you die."