A flesh eating alternative to heroin has surfaced in the United States and may soon show up on the streets of Syracuse.
The drug called "krokodil" is a cheap form of desomorphine, derived from processing codeine with such things as gasoline, lighter fluid, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, or red phosphorous.
Krokodil has shown up in Phoenix Arizona, Utah, and Chicago where addicts have sought treatment for horrific side effects including the rotting skin and muscle tissue that often require amputation. Krokodil got its name for the resemblance among addicts to crocodile skin.
Krokodil became popular among heroin users in Russia and eastern Europe about two years ago, according to Syracuse Police Sergeant Gary Bulinski who is a certified drug recognition expert. Bulinski says authorities are investigating reports that the drug was detected in New York City just two days ago. Bulinski says it's "only a matter of time" before krokodil appears in Syracuse. Bulinski says once a person becomes addicted, their flesh begins to rot away at the site of injections. He calls it a "death sentence" because addicts usually die with 2 to 4 years.
Jeremy Klemanski is the CEO of Syracuse Behavior Healthcare which treats an estimated 5,800 patients with drug abuse problems each year. Klemanski says his staff is on the lookout for krokodil usage in central New York. Klemanski says the drug is about one-tenth the cost of heroin. Klemanski says many users will ignore the obvious dangers of krokodil because they are unable to think logically as a result of their addiction. He says the nation needs to address the growing problem of opiates and the "need for increased access to treatment."
Bulinski says one reason why krokodil sees widespread use in Russia is the fact that codeine can be purchased over the counter whereas it is a prescription drug in the United States. Bulinski hope the gruesome images of rotting flesh will discourage people from trying the drug.