A new drug that is said to be stronger than heroin and capable of rotting addicts to death from the inside, while their skin is left a green, scaly mess, is said to have appeared in Canada. But experts are warning the public that the apparent arrival of krokodil may be more smoke than fire.
Recent reports suggest that krokodil – a mix of codeine and other toxins that has become increasingly common in Russia over the past decade – arrived in Ontario’s Niagara Region last week. The concoction is believed to be so deadly that reports of its spread into Canada made headlines in the U.K.
Those fears are now being tamped down, although not extinguished entirely, by Canadian drug abuse officials and local authorities.The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse issued a bulletin late last week announcing that there have been "no confirmed reports of desomorphine" in Canada.
"Unconfirmed reports might have resulted from the observation of severe wounds at injection sites among drug users," the bulletin reads.
"These wounds can resemble those associated with desopmorphine. This type of tissue damage can be owing to adulterants in injected drugs or illnesses such as Methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial infection."
Niagara Regional Police also stated that the reported cases had not been medically confirmed, although they urged caution.
Desomorphine is known by the street name "krokodil," the Russian word for crocodile. It is a synthetic opioid derived from codeine and a mixture of dangerous chemicals including lighter fluid, paint thinner and alcohol. It is more toxic and addictive than heroine and is said to cause tissue damage and the development of scale-like skin. Gangrene and amputation are also common side effects of krokodil use.
The drug has reached near-epidemic levels in Russia but has so far remained overseas. But several reported cases in the U.S., and now Canada, have health officials taking notice.
In St. Louis, doctors reported treating a man who said he had been injecting krokodil for months. The patient's little finger had blistered, turned black and disintegrated. Other reports have come out of Chicago, Ohio and now the Niagara Region of Ontario.
At least for now, according to the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (CENDU), there is no hard evidence behind the reports. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency cited two confirmed instances of krokodil in 2004, but none since.
Victoria Beklempls wrote for Newsweek recently the appearance of krokodil in North America is terrifying if true. But there is some reason to doubt an impending (or currently occurring) krokodil invasion.
"Part of the reason krokodil ... has become such a problem in Russia is that heroin addicts, seeking a cheap and readily available fix, were able to acquire codeine over the counter," Beklempls wrote. "Since codeine is not easy to get in the U.S., there’s no easy krokodil-cooking startup culture that would kick-start its spread across North America."
It should also be taken into account that Western culture is prone to sensational panic when it comes to the newest, weirdest and most dangerous drugs. Remember bath salts? Earlier this year, this concoction of (mostly) easily available drugs caused major panic thanks mostly to the horrifying accounts of what how some people acted while high. Reports of cannibalism, self-mutilation and homicidal thoughts quickly made bath salts the most feared drug on the street overnight.
All things considered, a few unconfirmed reports of a drug in one part of Canada does not mean it is sweeping the nation. Even if that drug has sensational and terrifying side effects. But stay tuned.
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Man that is beyond nasty! I'm completely at a loss as to why anyone would do that to themselves. I mean I know why, but I just don't get it.