Two more patients have checked into a Chicago-area hospital after developing skin lesions from using a drug they thought was cheap heroin. The substance turned out to be krokodil, doctors told Fox News 32, a nasty street drug typically made from codeine and lighter fluid. Injecting the mixture causes the skin to become yellow and hard, before developing lesions and falling off. "When I walked in the room, all you could smell was rotting flesh," says Dr. Abhin Singla, director of addiction services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill.
Krokodil is cheap, potent, and highly addictive, but it was mostly thought to be a moonshine drug. The recipe is available on the internet, so desperate junkies can make it at home. However, five users in Joliet say they bought the drug thinking it was heroin for around $8 a hit. This suggests that the drug is now being sold in addition to being cooked at home, which could cause it to spread faster. Local police were unaware of krokodil, which is typically injected but is reportedly also available in capsule form.
"All you could smell was rotting flesh."
Earlier this week, three middle-class white women checked into Presence Saint Joseph with symptoms of krokodil use; two left against doctor's orders because of fear of prosecution. The third had injuries covering 70 percent of her body, with open wounds as deep as the bone, according to a hospital spokesperson, but will be released soon. The two patients who checked in yesterday, both men, had lesions on their upper arms.
Reports of krokodil have been popping up around the country since the first two patients surfaced last month in the Phoenix area. The Drug Enforcement Administration says it is keeping an eye on the drug, but is not taking any action yet because its usage seems to be isolated. That may change if the drug continues to move as quickly as it has in Joliet.