The Flesh-Eating Drug Heads East
There is a drug named after a huge, sharp toothed, carnivorous lizard, thrice as potent as heroin and three times as cheap. There are users who become so addicted to it that they are willing to exchange their limbs for a high that lasts only a few hours. And there is a United States federal agency that may or may not be turning a blind eye on the whole thing, even though it grew to become an epidemic in a large northern Eurasian nation. All that’s missing here are FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
The name of the drug is Krokodil, labeled so because of the green, scaly skin it leaves in the injected area. The first cases in the U.S. were reported in Arizona last month. Now, as many as four more users have been indentified in Joliet, Illinois. Nevertheless, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is investigating neither the Arizona nor the Illinois occurrences, though they were looking at it overseas as late as 2011, especially in Russia where it originated and has been used by at least 1 million people. According to DEA spokeswoman Dawn Darden, as far as the agency goes, they haven’t seen any local cases.
The aftermath of the homemade drug makes ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Requiem for a Dream’ look like ‘Toy Story’ 1 and 2. Manufactured with codeine, lighter fluid, gasoline and industrial cleaners, Krokodil leaves gangrenous extremities that may require intensive treatment, skin grafts and even years of surgery, and even all of that may not be enough to guarantee saving a limb, or ensuring that user will ever walk again. Dr. Abhin Singla, director of the treatment center that admitted the Joliet cases, said that the smell of decaying flesh pervaded the room that they were in. Two of them left the center against physicians’ advice, and none of them have revealed where they obtained the drug. From Russia with love, indeed.