Flesh-eating drug makes its way to the U.S.

Flesh-eating drug makes its way to the U.S.

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A flesh-eating drug makes its way to the U.S. Known on the street as "krokodil," it's being called "the most horrible drug in the world." Fox 25's Kisha Henry shows us why drug enforcement officers are worried about Oklahomans.

Oklahoma is number one in the Nation for prescription addiction and opiate-abuse, and "krokodil" is made from prescription drugs. Its effects are extremely graphic.

Up until recently "krokodil" has only been popular in Russia, but now the flesh-eating drug has made its first reported appearance in the U.S., in Arizona. "You feel like you're going to die, but you don't," says Tom Boone, the Clinical Director at A Chance to Change Addiction Recovery. Boone used to be a heroine addict, and now works on the other side of addiction. He says "krokodil" is the "poor man's heroin."

"The veins are collapsing, they're getting infections from the chemicals, they're getting bacteria. There's a huge incidence of gangrene and other viruses," says Mark Woodward, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

"Krokodil" is a homemade opiate, created from prescription drugs like Hydrocodone. Users extract the drug by using substances like paint thinner, gasoline, or iodine. They then inject the drug. "Those (substances) get left behind in the mixture and those go into the body and cause all kinds of health issues," says Woodward.

"Krokodil" gives users a high similar to heroin, but it's three-times cheaper and more dangerous. "It's a short high. It lasts less than an hour, where heroine will last longer than that. Why is that an issue? It means people are going to do much more of it," explains Boone. The drug destroys a user's tissue, turning the skin scaly and green like a crocodile, before completely eating it. "The life expectancy of someone who's using it daily is two years," says Boone. He says opiate addictions have the worst withdrawals, which is why they're so dangerous.

So, if this drug is so dangerous, why do people do it? "Addiction is a very complex disease, but the reality is very simple. People do drugs and they do alcohol to change how they feel. It changes their emotional state, their psychological state. A first-time user might use it just to see what it feels like. But, then a change happens. They are not using drugs to get a good feeling. They are using drugs to keep a bad feeling away. At that point, you don't want to use drugs. Drugs aren't fun anymore. You have to use them," says Boone.

"About a year or a year and a half ago, we had a report that there was an overdose down in Southern Oklahoma. They took the young man to a hospital in Oklahoma City. They thought it was a possible overdose from the 'krokodil' that they were seeing over in Russia, but we never got that confirmed," says Woodward. Though the only confirmed cases have been in Arizona, OBN says it's likely 'krokodil' is already in Oklahoma. "People get desperate for any type of high and they go to extreme measures of stealing things out of medicine cabinets, and following a recipe off the Internet," says Woodward.

"If you want to show what withdrawals look like, you can go down to the jail, and see an opiate addict come in and be put in a cell and not be given anything. Watch what happens to them. It is insanity," says Boone, explaining the nature of addiction and what it does to a person.

Drug experts in Oklahoma are especially concerned, with our high rate of prescription and opiate abuse. "The most devastating thing I saw in Tulsa, when I was over there, was to see senior citizens going and getting hundreds of oxycodones and selling them to augment their income, to put food on the table," says Boone. He says they weren't addicted to them, but they were feeding into the horrible cycle of addiction.

OBN recommends locking up your prescriptions, or properly disposing of the ones you no longer use. It's also recommended to check your teenagers' or loved ones' Internet search history for websites that show users how to make "krokodil" and other drugs.

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, click here, or here, or call 405-840-9000. A Chance to Change offers free consultations.

If you would like to see more of the graphic effects of krokodil, click here (but we must warn you, the pictures are VERY graphic!)

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