First Victims of 'Flesh-Eating' Street Drug Being Treated by Joliet Doctor

In the last two days, three people who took "krokodil" have sought treatment for flesh-rotting abscesses the drug causes, a news release from Presence St. Joseph Medical Center said.

Credit: http://www.krokodildrug.com
Credit: http://www.krokodildrug.com

A Joliet doctor is treating three people who took "krokodil," a heroin substitute that's become known as the "flesh-eating" drug because it causes gangrene and abscesses so severe that muscles, tendons and bones can be exposed.

Dr. Abhin Singla, an internist and addiction specialist at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, said in a news release Tuesday that the patients have sought out treatment in the last 36 hours -- the first victims to be seen in Will County.

“As of late as last week, the first cases – a few people in Utah and Arizona – were reported to have been using the heroin-like drug, which rots the skin from the inside out,” said Singla, St. Joseph's director of addiction services and medical director for The Promises of Recovery, a treatment facility. 

“It is a horrific way to get sick. 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.”

The patients Singla is seeing have "significant maiming" in the arms and legs, the release said. 

Krokodil -- also known as desomorphine -- originated in Russian in 2003 as a substitute for heroin, which is difficult to get there, the new release said. It's made of codeine tablets combined with gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid or similar substances. It sells for about 10th of the cost of heroin, the release said.

Singla said it can be taken orally but most prefer to inject it because it creates a greater high. Experts say the feeling is comparable to morphine, with properties similar to methamphetamines, the release said.

"After injection," the release said, "the other chemicals began to work on the inside of the body, destroying tissues and blood vessels with abandon, ultimately causing the (krokodil) name (because of the) green scaly appearance to the skin.

"This dead skin can lead to life threatening infections, some requiring strong antibiotics and surgery, often amputation and also death. Russian doctors have reported death can occur 12 to 18 months after starting use of the drug."

Joliet Police Cmdr. Al Roechner, who oversees the department's patrol division, and Lt. Brian Dupuis, who oversees the investigations unit, said Tuesday they'd never heard of the drug and were not aware that anyone had been hospitalized for taking it.

However, with more than 30 deaths in Will County being attributed to heroin this year alone, it's not a huge surprise that people might seek out a cheaper substitute or take it accidentally because they believed it to be heroin, Dupuis said.

"(Heroin) has become an epidemic here," he said.

Singla said the same thing in the news release.

“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.

Herc October 08, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Infamous Steve October 09, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Yea i just found out about this like 2 weeks ago...it is BAD! Google image it and see for yourself...
newsman October 09, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Come one, come all! If it's fun, it's happening in Joliet!
Irma williams October 09, 2013 at 10:18 AM
People will still use drugs even when they hear about this. Wow! This is bad real bad..
Herc October 09, 2013 at 10:40 AM
If you google it, be prepared to puke! gross!
Concerned (NL) October 09, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Insane -
Steve October 09, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Wow is really worth the high? Sadly for many yes
anonymous October 09, 2013 at 11:47 AM
now the govt has another reason to throw tens of billions of $ more at a losing "War On Drugs". heroin was not so plentiful in the US until the CIA took over Afghanistan poppy production after our troops went in-you don't think they send all of those big troop supply transport planes back to the US from Afghanistan empty-do you?
GlockG22Shoots40s October 09, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Drug is friggin named after the disease it creates... how can this be appealing? What ever happened to smoking pot and drinking a few beers?
Derek Paulson October 09, 2013 at 02:20 PM
This is a deadly drug in russia. why is it in the US now? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsUH8llvTZo
John Andrews October 09, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Sounds like the beginning of Zombyism...
west sider October 09, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Maybe this drug was planted here and in other locations where there is a epidemic of heroin users to clean up the heroin addicts.
GlockG22Shoots40s October 09, 2013 at 03:09 PM
you mean "eat up" the heroin addicts.
Santos Calderon October 09, 2013 at 04:24 PM
The wonders of cannabis prohibition move on to toxic drugs that won't show up in a drug test and survive yep good job america you definitely want people to use all these illicit drugs instead of pot because they die off faster that way so it makes sense
GlockG22Shoots40s October 09, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Big Pharma doesn't want people smoking pot... it cures too many diseases including some cancers... Big Pharma lobbies hard to keep their drugs your only legal option.
Shrek October 09, 2013 at 11:41 PM
have you people forgotten about the russian mafia? They are alive and well and going good in chicago and naperville
GlockG22Shoots40s October 10, 2013 at 07:44 AM
I may be wrong here, but I would suspect the Russian Mafia would rather sell drugs that make more money than risk getting caught for a drug that is 10-20 times cheaper.... I don't think they are the Dollar Store of the drug cartels... Though being that this drug is an epidemic of sorts in Russia, you would tend to believe they brought it here.
voiceofreason October 10, 2013 at 01:00 PM
@ west sider , Drug addiction is a proven medical condition " a disease". Should we "clean up" or plant things to kill others with sicknesses such as mental illness? I doubt this is some kind of conspiracy.
west sider October 10, 2013 at 03:15 PM
@voiceofreason you have your opinion and I have mine. Drug addicts do not want to get well, they have a choice and they choose to consume something that will destroy them and their families. Personally I do not consider drug addiction the same as mental illness.
Raymond Clifford October 10, 2013 at 08:11 PM
When you buy from the street,know NOT what you eat!
Raymond Clifford October 10, 2013 at 08:58 PM
The originator of that statement about Tolerance reveals a subject with absolutely no FIRST HAND-as in using,knowledge about the drugs in question! Stupid statement coming from a doctor! Just-an-Opinion?
Raymond Clifford October 10, 2013 at 09:00 PM
@Voice of reason-Remember the Cyanide in your Tylenol scare that engendered the creation of all safety seals?
Just another reader October 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM
I don't smoke pot but have done my research lol legalize pot save time n money n prosecute these f****** idiots or let em end their selves this war on drugs gets worse not better
Charli October 11, 2013 at 05:31 AM
Omg does anyone not care what they put in their bodies anymore? Gasoline, lighter fluid, paint thinner! I understand that addiction is an illness, but my gosh even addicts should draw the line somewhere.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something