After the flesh-eating drug krokodil made its first appearance in his county this week, an Ohio sheriff offered some shocking advice to junkies: "Get your heroin from a trusted source."
Detectives in Athens had their first encounter with the drug's gruesome aftereffects Thursday when a woman came forward and told them she thought she had purchased heroin from her dealer, but it was actually krokodil.
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"The deputy [who talked with the woman] said the injection point right in the vein, at that point, becomes pussed over, and then it starts to become scaly, and then from that point starts moving out," Sheriff Patrick Kelly told 10TV.com
. "From my understanding, in this situation, it was coming upward, and, we say scaly, because it looks like a crocodile."
Krokodil — Russian for "crocodile" and named for the gangrenous, rough, scaly skin that users develop — is thought to have originated overseas but is now slowly emerging in the United States. The substance is made by cooking codeine with various toxic chemicals like lighter fluid, gasoline, or paint thinner, and literally rots the flesh, sometimes down to the bone. It is reportedly cheaper than heroin and three times as potent.
"It is a horrific way to get sick," Dr. Abhin Singla, a drug-treatment physician at the Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Illinois, told NBC Washington
. "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."
Kelly is worried about krokodil becoming an epidemic in Athens.
"I'm hoping [people here] won't use heroin it all, but I'm not that naïve," he told 10TV. "I know that they're going to so, to say, 'get your heroin from a trusted source,' sounds ridiculous coming from a sheriff. But I'm saying go to a source, if you're going to have to get your fix, you don't want to get ahold of krokodil."
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