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Drug experts worry krokodil is making its way to Northeast Ohio

5:51 PM, Oct 10, 2013   |    comments
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A flesh-eating drug that started in Russia has made its way to the United States. 

It's called krokodil because it leaves behind scaly patches of dead and decaying skin. 

It started in Russia back in 2000. 

It's made it way to Arizona, California and most recently Chicago. 

We haven't heard of any confirmed cases here -- but some drug experts say they are starting to see signs of krokodil and are warning users to be aware when they shoot up. 

Chico Lewis and Roger Lowe run a needle exchange program out of their traveling office. 

Users bring in about 26,000 used needles a month in exchange for clean ones. 

"When they're reaching out like that you grab their hand and you reassure them that there will be a better day," said Lewis. 

The goal is to stop the spread of disease and help get addicts into rehab. 

After 16-years Chico has see it all -- but nothing like this. 

A few weeks ago, a repeat user showed sores -- simiar to these. 

"Her faced looked like a mess even on her hands and arms," said Lewis. 

Chico fears the user was taking krokodil. 

The drug causes gangrene and abscesses on the body -- leaving behind scaly patches of skin like the name implies. It's made from codeine, gasoline and paint thinner. 

Everyone who visits the needle exchange van is now warned about the dangers of the drug. 

But Chico and Roger are concerned that users are desperate and krokodil is cheap. 

"If it's on the table of our drug users, it's gonna get out there. I think we're gonna see more of it and I'm terrified of what's gonna happen," said Lowe.

Krokodil is highly addictive. 

The average life span on the drug is only two to five years. 

Users who survive are often left with maimed arms and legs, which is why Chico and Roger are so concerned about this drug making its way to Cleveland.

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