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Krokodil Reported In Joliet

According to reporting on krokodil out of LA, users of the drug have shown up at the St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Joliet. Krokodil (the Russian spelling of crocodile), is a home-brew version of a morphine derivative, used as a cheaper form of injectable heroin. The name comes from the skin changes at injection sites, which can become scaly and even greenish as the flesh dies. In extreme cases, large chunks of tissue erode away, exposing muscle and bone beneath.

The drug is made in “cook” operations similar to methamphetamine manufacture, using household chemicals like iodine, muriatic acid and gasoline. The key ingredient is codeine, which provides the base structure. Codeine is itself a derivative of morphine. The process converts codeine into desomorphine, which, unlike codeine, can be injected.

Although it’s hard to imagine a drug more dangerous than heroin, krokodil fits the bill. Not only is it just as addictive, but the damage it does is masked (at first) because of the pain blocking properties of the opioid. By the time users seek out medical care, the only option may be to amputate the affected area. This, again, makes the name appropriate – the large wounds that result look like the bites from the drug’s namesake. Physicians who see these patients remark that the first thing they notice, even before an examination starts, is the strong odor of rotting flesh.

Right now, the drug is only suspected of being in the area. Metabolites that show up in urine or blood tests do not confirm krokodil, because other opiates yield the same end products. To make a solid determination of the cause of the injuries, only having a sample of the drug itself will do. Users may not even know for sure what they are taking, and other contaminants can cause similar flesh destroying symptoms. Addicts are especially prone to infections from using non-sterile equipment.

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