CREATED Sep. 27, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It eats away at your skin and doctors say, it can kill you in a matter of years. Two cases may have already been seen in Phoenix, and doctors hope showing how horrible this drug is will stop a possible epidemic.
It eats away at your skin, leaving sores and gashes that are flaky, almost green looking; hence the name Krokodil, Russian for crocodile.
"In the 12 years that I've been doing substance abuse prevention and education, it's probably the most destructive drug I've ever seen," said drug abuse expert Shelly Mowrie.
She said Krokodil ruins your appearance, your life, and Frank Lobecchio with Banner Heath's Poison and Drug Information Center told Nine On Your Side, it may have found its way here.
"You've probably gone on the internet to look at the necrosis of the skin, the skin lesions that they got, and we're very worried about that."
Just a quick search brings up a house filled with Krokodil users in Russia.
Experts said the drug is rampant there thanks to a shortage of heroin.
Addicts use things like paint thinner and iodine to get their fix, but Lobecchio said it's a deadly combination.
"The average life span was about two years once they started using it."
Doctors called the Phoenix Poison and Drug Center after they had two patients who showed signs of being Krokodil users; some of the first possible cases reported in the United States.
Experts said since about 2002, it has destroyed Russian communities, and they can only hope it will not ruin any more lives here.
"What I see are not just the flesh eating wounds," Mowrie said, "but the dreams and the lives that are destroyed because of drug use."
It's painful and disturbing, and something no one wants to become an epidemic in this country or in this state.
Experts urge parents not to keep things containing codeine out for children to reach.
If you see a loved one or a patient with sores on their body, The Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center wants you to call them at 1-800-222-1222.