Flesh-eating opiate drug 'krokodil' poisons users in Chicago suburbs

The Russian street drug 'krokodil' has poisoned three users in the suburbs of Chicago. NBC News reported that Dr. Abhin Singla of Present St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, IL has seen three patients with the rotting, gangrenous sores that form at krokdil injection sites. In most users, the flesh takes on a lumpy, greenish appearance, which earned the drug its name, the Russian word for "crocodile."

“It is a horrific way to get sick," Singla told NBC. "The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they often are not enough to save limbs or lives.”

Krokodil was first synthesized by heroin addicts in Russia's remote Siberian steppes. Unable to secure a regular supply of heroin, users created a toxic stew of codeine-laced headache pills, red phosphorus from matches, iodine, gasoline and other chemicals that produced a heroin-like high when shot into a vein.

Krokodil users live an average of one to seven years after becoming addicted to the drug. Their arms and legs become pitted with abscesses and lesions that rot from the inside out. Skin sloughs off from the wounds, leaving bone and muscle tissue exposed to the air.

Singla told NBC that Joliet's Will County will likely see more sick krokodil users due to the area's high incidence of heroin addiction.

“Will County’s already burgeoning heroin epidemic may have created a tolerance level to the point where users are now looking for cheaper and better highs,” he said.

Arizona reported in late September that addicts were arriving in hospital emergency rooms with krokodil-related abscesses and infections.

Addiction counselor Shelly Mowrey told Phoenix, AZ's ABC Channel 15, "In the 12 years that I’ve been doing substance abuse and prevention education, it’s probably the most destructive drug I’ve ever seen."