November 21, 2013 8:02 pm

Krokodil, a flesh-eating street drug, is in Canada, reports suggest

ABOVE: Dangerous “Krokodil” drug reported in Ontario. Mark Carcasole reports. 

Warning: Story content and photos may be disturbing to some readers.

TORONTO – It turns the skin around the injection site scaly and crocodile-like. Users become “zombie-like creatures” with black or green skin. And the deadly chemical mix is more addictive than heroin.

It’s called “Krokodil,” a flesh-eating drug that’s allegedly on the streets of Niagara Region in Ontario.

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Earlier this week, CHCH in Hamilton reported that there were two cases of people addicted to the drug. It’s believed to be the first time the deadly street drug has been found in Canada.

That local story about two Niagara Region users made its way around the world, with reports in the Independent and the Belfast Telegraph in the United Kingdom.

By Wednesday night, Niagara Police released information urging the public to consider the dangers of all street drugs.

“It is important we continue to educate about the dangers of drugs like Krokodil to combat making the wrong decisions concerning experimenting with any mind altering substance,” a statement from Niagara Regional police said.

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Krokodil, or desomorphine, is made with a combination of household chemicals – iodine, gasoline, red phosphorus, lighter fluid and paint thinner. It’s mixed with codeine, either in the form of pills or syrup. Then it’s usually injected immediately and without any purification, according to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Krokodil is a cheap heroin substitute that can be easily cooked at home. Reports say it’s highly addictive and short-lasting – that means addicts are constantly cooking and then using.

The drug surfaced internationally about a decade ago, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. By 2009, it gained popularity in Russia. Reports suggest that in Canada, demand for Krokodil has appeared as OxyContin went off the market.

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Long-time users apparently get “greenish and scaly” skin due to damaged blood vessels, thrombosis (blood clotting) and damaged soft tissues at the injection site.

“The skin’s appearance is similar to a crocodile’s scaled and rugged skin. The skin injuries can eventually develop into severe tissue damage,” the DEA says. Usually, these conditions lead to amputation and even death.

The drug also seems to leave clumps in the veins because it doesn’t dissolve completely in the blood. Those clumps also start to pick at skin tissue.

The photos surfacing online are graphic: bruised skin covered in sores and scarred, decaying limbs showcasing protruding bones.

Last month, CNN said the drug was in the U.S. – five people were hospitalized in a Chicago suburb as similar cases popped up in Arizona and Oklahoma.

“It’s a zombie drug – it literally kills you from the inside out. If you want a way to die, this is a way to die,” Dr. Abhin Singla, an addictions specialist, told CNN.

But these cases of Krokodil use – along with the cases in Canada – are not officially confirmed. Canadian and U.S. drug officials would have to investigate the incidents and the drugs used.

“The report(ed) cases have not been medically confirmed. The symptoms associated with Krokodil can be mistaken with the complications that long-term users of injectable drugs like heroin can develop through infections from reusing needles and exposing themselves to all sorts of bacteria,” the Niagara Police say.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

© Shaw Media, 2013

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