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New drug trend has gruesome consequences for users

Patty Santos

Krokodil is a cheap heroin-type drug that offers a quick high, but it could also cost you your flesh.

People with their ear to the underground world of illegal drugs in San Antonio told KSAT that Krokodil, also known as the zombie drug, is making its way around the streets of the Alamo City.

The drug, made with codeine and toxic household chemicals, such as lighter fluid, matches and/or gasoline, eats away the flesh of those who inject themselves with it.

UT Health San Antonio professor Charles France, PhD, said the drug is a form on morphine but it is 10 times more potent than morphine. The official name of the drug is desomorphine, and the drug itself is not deadly, but when it's combined with solvents, it takes on a deadly form.

WEB EXTRA: Expert explains what Krokodil is

"The unique feature to this one is it's super easy to make," France said. "Even somebody with a basic understanding of chemistry can take a molecule that's easier to get their hands on and turn it into a Krokodil, and that molecule is codeine."

The side effects of the drugs are gruesome.

"The adverse consequences, which are profound necrosis of tissue, cardiovascular problems, degeneration of venous tissues, leading subsequently to infection and death,” France said.

Dawnya Janousek, with Rise Recovery, said she was a witness of the aftermath of the drug’s use on two people. One was more severe than the other.

"You can see her bone, and it was black and green, and it was rotting away," Janousek said about the woman, who ended up getting her leg amputated because of the infection.

"It's very disgusting, and it smells. It smells like rotting flesh, and that's what it is," she said.

Janousek said she hopes she never sees it again. She said the addict she knew used the drug because it was cheap and easy to make and she could cook it in 30 minutes.

But the high doesn't last as long as other drugs.

France said the drug was created by a Switzerland pharmaceutical company, which was trying to make a better opioid with the pain-relieving effects of morphine but less addictive potential.

But Krokodil is more addictive than morphine. France said he worries the drug could be mistakenly used by addicts.

The Bexar County Sheriff's Office said drug units have not come across Krokodil on the streets and the department’s test kits can only detect narcotic substances, not the specific drugs.

If you or someone you know needs help with any type of substance abuse, call Rise Recovery at 210-227-2634.

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