In the past few weeks 5 people have been hospitalized in Joliet, Illinois with symptoms related to the street drug Krokodil, named for the scaly appearance of the skin seen on users. Krokodil first began to draw media attention in 2010, when reports out of Russia showed an increase in homemade desomorphine production.

Reports from the International Journal of Drug Policy, showed that over 100,000 Russians injected Krokodil in 2011, which is said to be caused by the difficulties Russians had in procuring heroin at that time.

Cheap Heroin turns users into Zombies

The “high” associated with Krokodil, is said to be similar to heroin, however the effects are not as long lasting. The injected drug can be made relatively cheaply with over the counter codeine,iodine and red phosphorus, however, similar to methamphetamine, this type of drug typically ends up being quite impure and often cut with toxic chemicals such as lighter fluid.

Due to the toxic nature of the chemicals used in Krokodil, the drug, once injected, begins to eat away at the veins, tissue, and cause gangrene and necrosis.

No confirmed cases in the US

Although there has been no confirmed cases in the US, doctors in Arizona, Oklahoma, and now, Illinois, believe that they have treated patients suffering the ill effects of the drug. To have an official confirmation the DEA would need to have a sample of the drug that is causing the issue, which has been difficult to procure in these cases.

Doctors treating the 5 people in Illinois, have reported that their patients believed they were buying heroin at the time, only to discover the flesh eating affects later on. These disturbing accounts, may mean that there is a larger presence of Krokodil  in the US being passed off as heroin to unsuspecting users.