A krokodil user with necrosis of the hand.
When the nasty, highly addictive street drug krokodil appears in a new area, it tends to spread fast. So when doctors at the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center got two separate reports of suspected krokodil use in the last month — possibly only the second and third cases ever reported in the US — they alerted media, government, and the medical industry.
“We’re taking it very seriously because we’re worried that this drug has finally made it here in some substantial quantity,” says Dr. Aaron Skolnik, a toxicologist at Banner. “We would love to be wrong, but whenever we hear about stuff like this, we usually get more.”
Krokodil has been called a “moonshine drug,” because addicts often cook it at home using codeine pills and household chemicals like lighter fluid and iodine. It’s more addictive than heroin, cheaper than prescription painkillers, and gets you 10 times as high as morphine — but for half as long.
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