A poison control center in Phoenix, Ariz. is reporting that it has received calls regarding what is believed to the first two cases of krokodil use in the U.S.
Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at Banner's Poison Control Center, told CBS affiliate KPHO in Phoenix that his center dealt with two users of the dangerous drug known for its use in Russia in the past week.
What is Krokodil?
Krokodil, also known by its real name as desomorphine, is an opiod derivative of morphine. It is a cheap but very dangerous alternative to heroin. It originated in Russia around a decade ago, and often includes things such as hydrochloric acid and gasoline in mixtures.
Like other opioids such as heroin, krokodil has a sedative and analgesic effect. Not only is it fast-acting, but the drug is eight to 10 times more potent than morphine, Medscape reports. A homemade version of the drug is easily made using codine, iodine, gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, lighter fluid and red phosphorus. Because of this, it is known as a flesh-eating drug. You can see pictures of how it affects the body in the accompanying slideshow, but beware. Viewer discretion is advised.
In the first three months of 2012, Russian authorities had seized a staggering 65 million doses of krokodil.
Withdrawal symptoms of krokodil are nasty and severe than that of heroin. People giving up heroin might experience physical pain for five to 10 days. But, with krokodil, the pain can last for up to a month, the Independent had earlier reported.
Many krokodil addicts suffer from speech impairments and erratic movements even after staying-off of the drug. Life expectancy of a drug addict is about one year. Irina Pavlova, a user who told her story to Time magazine, said at the time she used the drug daily for six years. Though she was still alive, she had a speech impediment and "something of a lobotomy patient's vacant gaze" in addition to deteriorating motor skills due to brain damage.
About 1 million people in Russia use krokodil, and the drug has been found in other European countries as well, according to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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