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Joliet Krokodil Victims: Young, Middle-Class & Female, Doctor Says

Three people are known to have taken the flesh-rotting drug here, but those cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, Dr. Abhin Singla said.

published Oct. 9, 2013

Dr. Abhin Singla was walking through the intensive care unit of Presence St. Joseph Medical Center Monday when he overheard a nurse speaking about heroin and then caught the distinctive odor of rotting flesh.

And he knew: Krokodil had arrived in Joliet.

The homemade drug that combines codeine with such things as gasoline and lighter fluid, producing a high three times stronger than heroin when injected, is called the flesh-eating drug because it rots the body from the inside out. It has claimed thousands of victims in Russia, but has only been publicly reported in the United States since last week.

Within 24 hours of seeing his first krokodil case, two more emerged, said Singla, St. Joseph's director of addiction services and medical director for The Promises of Recovery, a treatment facility. It's likely there will be many more before word gets out to the heroin-using community, he said.

"Honestly, I'm kind of surprised -- it was just in Arizona and Nevada last week -- how quickly it got here," Singla said.

Then again, maybe it shouldn't be a huge shock given that Joliet is often a stopping-off place for drug dealers moving their wares along Interstate 55 and 80 from the West Coast to Chicago, said Singla, who used to work with the Will County state's attorney's office on drug cases.

The three patients he's currently treating have three things in common: They're female, they're between the ages of 18 and 25, and they come from middle-class backgrounds in the suburban Joliet area.

One knew she was taking krokodil, the other two did not, Singla said.

What they now also have in common are months of withdrawal, surgery and drug treatment ahead of them, and the hope that the ravages of the drug doesn't ultimately take their lives, he said.

"If you want to kill yourself, this is the way to do it," Singla said.

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The genesis of the drug actually goes back to the 1930s, when it was known as a painkiller called "desomorphine," he said. While no longer used here for that purpose, it is in Russia and other countries. In tablet form, it doesn't cause the abscesses and gangrene that result when it's injected, Singla said.

Its use as a heroin substitute emerged in Russia after the Soviet war in Afghanistan destroyed many poppy fields, thus creating a shortage of the poppy seeds needed for heroin. It was discovered that codeine, which is available over-the-counter there, could be used to make a narcotic that not only provided a high far greater than heroin, but could be produced for far less expense, Singla said.

"They realized they could get a bigger bang for less money," he said. "The price being one-tenth the cost of heroin is a real game-changer."

The downside is the "bang" does not last as long as that produced by heroin, and the side effect -- rotting flesh that can become so infected that bone, muscle and tendons are exposed -- is not only painful, but deadly.

The drug was nicknamed krokodil -- Russian for crocodile -- because it produces green scales similar to a crocodile hide before progressing into abscesses and gangrene.

Two of the patients Singla saw this week had no idea they'd taken krokodil or that they were just seeing the beginning of what will be an excruciatingly painful fight to save their arms, legs, fingers and toes from amputation and their skin from rotting away, he said.  

"They came (to me) for help to get off heroin, and that's when I told them what they really had," Singla said.

Word of mouth may be the only way to stem what could end up being an epidemic of krokodil cases, he said. Once addicts learn of it, they will tell each other and learn to avoid it, similar to what happened a year or two ago when heroin was being mixed with a substance that could cause instant death and has since gone away, he said.

But until then, many people are likely going to get snared by the drug and left with damage it causes, he said.

The one thing parents can do is speak to their children about drugs and about krokodil specifically, Singla said. While it's difficult, parents need to show their children the photos of people who have been affected by the drug because the reality will scare them more than any lecture, he said.

"The goriness of the pictures of rotting arms and legs are hard to look at, but I think parents really need to share them with their kids," Singla said. 

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sonny Crockett October 09, 2013 at 08:21 PM
how hard is it to get weed you idiot? im sure its not so hard you have to add gasoline to codeine and microwave it or whatever these idiots do to get a high.. if you "need" to get a high you re a pathetic loser.
Patch reader October 09, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Two of the three didn't know what it was. I'm sure the other girl didn't know the effects. I feel bad for their families and the heartache they are causing them.
Roy Martin October 10, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Instead of going to war against the substance, why not address the problem that causes these young people to turn to drugs?
Nicholson October 10, 2013 at 05:08 AM
The thing that saddens me most is the level of depression one has to be in to try this. Instead of bashing them we should try to prevent anyone else from doing this by being more polite in our everyday lives and showing more love towards each other, be kind people, these are all our brothers and sisters no matter what race they are. Unite!
John Roberts October 10, 2013 at 08:01 AM
This drug is a replacement for Heroin,when heroin is too hard to get a hold of this is the creation that came after..
Spice1 October 10, 2013 at 09:20 AM
These ladies should be sure to sign up for Obamacare.....
thisisnews October 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM
sign of the times...
The Reckoning October 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Just thinning out the herd.... Maybe it's time to take the warning labels off of everything too.
Bob October 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM
can't fix stupid...
Dane Nikki Mentzer October 10, 2013 at 01:41 PM
I hope that stuff takes the place of all heroin. In a couple of years, heroin and heroin users won't be a problem anymore. I like this solution.
Spice1 October 10, 2013 at 04:42 PM
@Roy. Roy, I think Bob answered your question. "You cant fix stupid"
jo October 11, 2013 at 01:53 PM
gotta pay to dance with the devil
JtwnStunna October 11, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Heard about this drug months ago. Knew it was only a matter of time before it made it to the U.S.. and what a shock, good old Joliet is one of the first places it makes an appearance.
Dale Komives October 11, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Thin the herd.
Patch reader October 11, 2013 at 07:06 PM
2 more cases - craziness. They also said 2 of the girls left the hospital to avoid criminal charges. The third girl is still in intensive care.
J N October 11, 2013 at 08:06 PM
"Joliet Krokodil Victims" Victims? Did someone hold them down and forcibly administer it? How about an honest word for that part of the article title: "Joliet Krokodil Proponents" or "Krokodil Enthusiasts"
LKLEX October 12, 2013 at 04:50 PM
I seriously doubt that if the three victims were male, their gender would even be mentioned. I can only wonder: how does their having a vagina factor into this?
Revealer Reality October 12, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Keep it up, it was your choice and deserve the results of your choices.
crabby October 13, 2013 at 03:25 AM
As an RN I have worked with enough substance abusers to know that anyone who self injects drugs is a hard core addict chasing instant gratification. Trying to portray the people abusing Krokodil in this article as being remotely normal is plain stupid.Anyone who has ever worked with heroin addicts knows they will shoot shoot and keep shooting over and over in the same area until they develop an abscess so deep the bone is exposed. Very painful. The issue is the addicted individual and interventions....support.....programs to educate and offer them some reality about HIV.....what type of drugs are out there......sanitation.....needle exchange. We had like 12 heroin O D 's within weeks a few years ago in the county I live in. The heroin addicts had NO idea the heroin they were shooting up was not diluted with all the crap it is usually cut with and so BOOM...O D just like Janis Joplin....dying with that needle in their arm. SMH it makes me so effin angry...sad...perplexed.....that people mutate into zombies when they are addicts:( So many that I have worked with were so (formerly) good looking...intelligent......vulnerable.....artistic creative but drugs snuff all of that while they are actively using. It will be interesting to see if CDC or any public health officials will make informing the communities of Krokodil a priority:(:(
Sasha Marston October 13, 2013 at 04:42 AM
Circulate the pictures of what it does to you, sheer vanity will protect most.
Jim October 13, 2013 at 07:47 AM
I hate to sound so cold but this is finally a way to solve our drug problem. It seems that this will take all addicts off the streets and to their graves which is where they are headed in the end anyhow. Jails, institutions and death like they say in NA but they just skipped through the first two and are headed straight for the death part. Anyone who injects drugs into their system with a needle is way too far gone to be satisfied with just pot. I know this must be a terrible thing to go through but it seems to me that it is a problem that will just take care of itself in a short while. I was an addict almost 30 years ago but I never stuck nothing in my arm. I have been clean for 28 years. There is a whole sin bundle that goes with addiction and the wages of sin is death,well these ones just got their paycheck early I hate to say.
Tom Barksdale October 13, 2013 at 08:37 AM
It's the Darwin principle at work. Nature culls out the dumbest and weakest among us, leaving the human race stronger in the long run. These people are in the running for the Darwin Award, given anually to those whose conscious decisions lead to their demise.
Martin Beck October 13, 2013 at 03:05 PM
color me not surprised what people will serve up for a dollar . Once again because stupidly it is against the law . which is the fulcrum to the use of this flesh eating thing . Do yea get it ? The fucking law is pushing these people to not only eating their but eating up our health care too . Hey if ya want to say " fuck them there just junkies " Its still going to ruin lives and cost money . Do ya fucking get it ? I don't think you do . More is the pity
Martin Beck October 13, 2013 at 03:06 PM
I mean the illegal heroin is the problem . Make it legal and controlled . Get it ?
crabby October 13, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I also believe that anyone who would purposely put a needle in their body to inject any illegal substance has reached a state of such denial depravity and altered reality that they are beyond grasping danger to themselves.And I am a Psychiatric/Critical Care Rn who has worked with every possible type of addict there is.Who does that? A healthy emotionally stable individual does not self harm.Sticking needles (usually contaminated needles) into your body is a flagrant act of self violation/self harm. Until the experts can pinpoint the exact cause of addiction.....and I mean addiction to anything...food.....sex....drugs....booze....etc. this self annihilation that addicts play out will continue. IF Krokodil becomes a nationwide epidemic then health care will take a huge hit.Flesh eating disease can be chronic....often fatal and does not respond to treatment very well.
Jonas Rand October 13, 2013 at 07:22 PM
This is nothing to be surprised about. Drug abuse has been among one of the things the youngest generation of American girls have been spoiled with. As the Jewish-controlled entertainment industry for the young (Disney, nickelodeon, MTV) continues to push degenerate life styles including preteen sexuality, the deliberate promotion of race mixing, alcohol and drug abuse. Are among the `new coolest thing` of the day. For example. 21 year old `Miley Cyrus` in her super hit song `we can't stop` manages promote XTC as well as Coke. (`Molly`= XTC, `Waiting for a line in the bathroom`=Coke, ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrUvu1mlWco http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/22/miley-cyrus-molly_n_3634422.html http://blogs.forward.com/the-shmooze/185403/miley-cyrus-knows-better-than-old-jewish-men/ "Miley Cyrus" is more well known among young girls with her other, child-star screen name "hannah montana", with which she had her own show on the Jewish-controlled Disney channel, which is still being broadcasted today. The upcoming best seller album of super-star Katy Perry. That is her upcoming album called `prism`. Which is expected to become a best-selling album. Has a song in it referencing, one could say, promoting the use of XTC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4D5egXVqSg Another TV-personality your teenage girls are looking up to- Ke$ha. ( Ke$ha has had her own `Reality Show` on MTV. ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdeFB7I0YH4 I guess your o-so admired `freedom`, and the insistance that, `the jews`, can do no wrong, comes at a price. This is the culture you choose for. Who Controls Music? http://thezog.wordpress.com/who-controls-music/ Who Controls Big Media? http://thezog.wordpress.com/who-controls-big-media/ Times Of Israel Blogger: Jews DO control US media http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/jews-do-control-the-media/
lady karma October 14, 2013 at 09:12 PM
The story shouldn't be about three women getting crocodile. It should be about how this woman was shooting heroin with teenage daughters, and the babies born to the teenage daughter. This mother should be locked up, luckily they took her grandchildren away before she could get them addicted. That has to be a crime...doesn't it?
Anna October 15, 2013 at 01:21 AM
It's very hard for me to sympathize with heroin addicts. No one alive can possibly be ignorant of the powerful addictiveness and destructiveness of heroin, and yet they 'try' it anyway. I feel terrible for their loved ones who have to deal with them, not for the addicts themselves. Addicts, drugs, the war on drugs, the drug rehab industry-I'm sick of all of it. It's been a blight on our society for decades and is never going away because idiots continue to seek an altered state of consciousness. Yes, that includes the pot smokers. A pox on all of them-and that's pretty much what krokodil has wrought for these three women. LkLex, that they are female is only incidental to the story. The fact is, the doctor's patients are 3 women. The doctor could have said 'three humans' or 'three mammals'-do you think that would have been a better description?
Martin Beck October 15, 2013 at 01:32 PM
stop blaming the victims ! They are sick and they are sick because of greed and yes they are not strong . But they are Americans instead of giving money to countries that hate us , Give it to victims of addiction It cost less and our health care load would be lessoned to at least a tolerable problem . Jail is for criminals not dope fiends wake the fuck up
Anna October 15, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Heroin addicts and 'dope fiends' aren't 'victims'-they are willing, eager, users of addictive substances, substances they are well aware in advance are addicting. They CHOOSE to do it. The victims would be their families and us, the taxpayers who pay for the enormous costs associated with their rehabs and counseling and hospitals and all aspects of the criminal justice system. Dont know where 'greed' comes into it, but it seems to me that people who throw around the word 'greed' are usually peeved because they want bigger benefits/welfare/disability checks.

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