Too close for comfort

LISBON – When you read a story about a synthetic drug that causes a human body to rot from the inside out, you might think it is media hype at the Halloween time of the year. It couldn’t really happencould it? But, the photos are going around on the social media and the reports are everywhere in the news. There is a relatively new drug making the rounds. It sells cheap, the high is not as long, many “customers” don’t know what they are getting, and it is deadly.

It has been used in Russia for some time. Recently it was reported that the DEA said they are not seeing it. But doctors at hospitals around the country began reporting that they are treating patients who have used it and reports are that the DEA is now taking it very seriously. “It” is a synthetic drug called “krokodil,” Russian for crocodile. Early last week and its partner, Join Together Online, reported that it IS a problem with this headline: “Krokodil, flesh-eating drug, makes appearance in Chicago suburbs.”

When one considers the contents used in this drug, it’s hard to understand why anyone would use it. Some would say that if you ask why an addict would use something so risky you clearly don’t understand addiction.

The drug is made by cooking codeine with toxic chemicals like lighter fluid, gasoline, paint thinner, iodine or industrial cleaners. It is much cheaper than heroin. released an article on Oct. 10 stating that doctors at a suburban Chicago hospital were treating three people who used the “caustic, homemade heroin-like drug.” Krokodil rots flesh and bone.

“When a person injects the drug it destroys tissue and turns the skin scaly and green, giving it a crocodile-like appearance,” say the folks at “The drug can also cause blood poisoning, festering sores and abscesses.”

Dr. Abhin Singla is treating a woman who began to use krokodil a month ago. The doctor said, “When she came in she had the destruction that occurs because of this drug over 70 percent of her lower body. It’s very frightening. It almost immediately starts to destroy blood cells and blood vessels, literally causes gangrene from the inside of the body coming out.” He also stated he expects the abuse of this drug to get worse before it gets better.

The DEA says there is no accepted medical use in the U.S. for krokodil, also known as desomorphine. It is a controlled substance in Switzerland. It is a semi-synthetic opioid. The skin injuries can eventually develop into severe tissue damage leading to thrombophlebitis and gangrene. These conditions usually result in limb amputation or sometimes death.

Extremely graphic photos are available online that show the kinds of wounds that occur from use of krokodil. It also is reported that even if there are no wounds on the surface, the drug is attacking the body from the inside to the outside and life expectancy for use of this drug is two years.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.