JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—It's a heroin knockoff and a flesh-eating drug. This week an escaped JSO inmate turned herself in and died hours later. While it’s not clear if she was on the drug then, she admitted to being a user of ‘Krokodil’ – also called the ‘zombie drug.’
One of the reasons it’s got such a name is because of what it does to your flesh. It, essentially, eats it from the inside out. The drug started getting big in South Florida two years ago – and now, it’s come to Jacksonville.
Krokodil is an opiate similar to heroin and is often known as the poor man’s heroin. Why? Because it’s cheap and easy to make. The effect it has on the skin come from what’s inside – codeine, iodine, gasoline, industrial cleaning oil, lighter fluid and paint thinner.
“It’s probably the most dangerous drug that we know of at this point in time,” Dr. Raymond Pomm said, Vice President of Medical Services at River Region. River Region is a drug and alcohol treatment center.
Krokodil’s history goes back more than 80 years, to the early 1930s in Switzerland where it was used as a pain reliever.
“It just literally hijacks your entire brain,” said Pomm.
The production and usage of the drug was shut down once its addictive properties were discovered.
“It is so highly addictive; it is so powerful – it’s 8 to 10 times more powerful than morphine. It grabs you unfortunately, and doesn’t last long,” Pomm said. “Those drugs that tend not to last long are more addictive.”
After being discontinued, it reappeared in Russia back in the early 2000s and became more popular by 2010. Pomm said he’s seen one case here in Jacksonville.
“We actually had a client here who left our clinic saying, ‘I’ve used all of the drugs out there,’” Pomm said. “Opiates were her drug of choice. She said she had tried Krokodil once and she understood very clearly how powerful it was and wasn’t sure if she was going to stay away from it. And we never saw her again.”
Pomm said he is worried about what clinics like River Region can do against the drug.
“This drug is so powerful that all they want is more drug,” Pomm said. “The average life span is 1 – 2 years after someone starts using. It’s almost like we have no chance.”