The Zombie Drug

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 2 2013 @ 7:59am

That “Breaking Dead” mashup we linked to yesterday (and embedded above) is closer to reality than you think:

Krokodil, a highly addictive designer drug that aggressively eats through flesh, has reportedly arrived in the United States. A Phoenix CBS affiliate revealed [last] week that two cases involving krokodil had been phoned into a local poison control center and quoted one of the center’s medical directors, Dr. Frank LoVecchio, saying he and his colleagues were “extremely frightened.”

Details of what the drug does to you:

Krokodil, technically known as Desomorphine, has a similar effect to heroin, but is significantly cheaper and easier to make. In the last few years, it’s been wreaking severe havoc on the bodies and lives of Russian youth. The drug earned its nickname—the Russian word for crocodile—because of the ghastly side effects it has on the human body. Wherever the drug is injected, the skin turns green and scaly, showing symptoms of gangrene. In severe cases, the skin rots away completely revealing the bone beneath. Other permanent effects of the drug include speech impediments and erratic movement. Rotting flesh, jerky movements, and speech troubles have prompted media outlets to tag krokodil the “zombie drug.”

According to Time, the average user of krokodil only lives two or three years, and “the few who manage to quit usually come away disfigured.” Quitting is its own nasty business. Heroin withdrawal symptoms last about a week; symptoms for krokodil withdrawal can last over a month.