Officials may have seen the first sign of a flesh-eating form of heroin in New Hampshire last week.
First responders in Manchester, New Hampshire, said the drug known as Krokodil eats away the flesh of users. While until now the drug has reportedly only been an issue in Europe and the southwest United States, it appears that Krokodil may be spreading to the northeast United States.
With 67 calls and 10 fatalities in June, last month was the worst for heroin overdoses so far this year, according to paramedics with American Medical Response. Chris Hickey, the Manchester paramedic shift supervisor, told WCVB that although calls regarding the drug overdoses have become familiar, one call last week was unlike anything they had ever seen.
“With someone who is literally rotting away in front of you, it turns the stomach of even the most seasoned provider,” Hickey said.
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After the crews were able to successfully revive the addict, the user told them he believed he had injected the heroin-like drug, Krokodil, WCVB reported.
“It’s pretty much the dirty sister of morphine and heroin,” Hickey added.
The drug, which is chemically known as desomorphine, is a homemade opiate that is made from over-the-counter codeine-based headache pills mixed with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner, or alcohol, according to USA Today. When the drug is injected, it reportedly destroys the user's tissue. The user's skin will then become greenish and scaly.
The drug, which originated in Russia, was first reported in the United States in 2013, appearing in Arizona. Hickey told WCVB that addicts will continue to use the drug, regardless of how dangerous and unpredictable it might be, because the pull is so strong.
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Manchester police said that although they cannot confirm that the drug is present in the city, they warn users that dealers could be mixing heroin with anything.
In fact, dealers will often reportedly choose not to cut heroin with the painkiller fentanyl, instead opting for cheaper alternatives.
"A lot of times, it's cut with something like gasoline or the ground-up red phosphorus from the tips of matches or drain cleaner," Hickey explained.