Krokodil drug concerns in Lorain County

The recent scares in Columbus have caused county officials to begin asking: What do we do if krokodil ends up in Lorain county?

Desomorphine, more commonly known as krokodil, is an opiate drug that a gives temporary high to users.
Originally, desomorphine was created in the 1930s to be an alternate to morphine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the production of the drug was mostly cut off once it was discovered that “it is about 10 times more potent than morphine.”

Krokodil, the home-cooked version of desomorphine, first started making international appearances in 2002 in parts of Russia and Ukraine.

In September, the first United States case of krokodil was reported in Arizona. Since then, the drug has slowly made its way toward Ohio, with reports of the drug being found in Columbus in late October.

Luckily, those reports in Columbus ended up being false, according to Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino.

“The cases that were reported in Columbus actually ended up just being the result of dirty needles,” said Costantino, leader of the Elyria Narcotics Unit. “The people had similar signs and symptoms of krokodil use, but they did not actually use the stuff.”

As far as street drugs are concerned, Costantino said that krokodil closely resembles heroin.

“It is administered the same way and produces the same general effects,” he said.

However, according to Lorain County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh, krokodil’s effect on the body is much shorter than the effects of heroin. It also is much more detrimental to the body.

“From what I understand the feeling is stronger than what heroin provides, but much shorter,” said Cavanaugh, head of the Lorain County Drug Task Force. “However, the impact that the drug has on your body it terrible.”

The drug causes the body to deteriorate from the inside out, he said.

“Your body will literally start to disintegrate,” Cavanaugh said. “In the short term, that may not happen, but continued use is going to be devastating on a person’s body.”

According to the DEA, long-term effects can include damaged blood vessels, thrombosis and damaged soft tissues surrounding the injection sites. These conditions can lead to gangrene.

Additionally, the drug tends to cause the skin of the user to change into a scaly consistency with a green tinge, similar to that of a crocodile.

“It’s really just a nasty drug,” Costantino said. “There is nothing pleasant about the effects it has on the body.”

Cavanaugh said he is particularly worried about krokodil appearing in Lorain County because of the heroin issues that already are present.

“Heroin in Lorain County is already at an epidemic proportion,” he said. “Krokodil is a unique problem that I’m worried will only enhance the use of both.”

Costantino agreed with Cavanaugh, adding that he is worried that krokodil could become prevalent due to its cheap nature.

“It’s a poor man’s heroin,” he said. “It’s cheaper and stronger, but does not last as long. That’s a dangerous combination that can quickly lead to addiction.”

Cavanaugh remains hopeful that the drug will not make it into Lorain County. However, he said hope is not the reality.

“I hope it doesn’t make it here, but I’m very concerned that it will,” Cavanaugh said. “I have no idea why anyone would want to put this stuff in their body, especially when they know what it is made of.”

Some of the ingredients that Cavanaugh said are particularly disturbing include gasoline, paint thinner and matchstick heads.

“Why would anyone ever want to put stuff like that in their body,” he questioned.

Costantino said it is tough to form a solid plan to combat the drug should it make an appearance.

“Obviously education is important, both for officers and the public,” he said. “I know that the hospitals are kept up to date on this stuff and what to look for.”

Cavanaugh said that, should the drug appear, quick reactions will play a large role in stopping it from staying.

“If we can find out where it is being made and quickly get rid of it before too much has made it onto the streets, that is going to be the best thing we can do,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s hard to combat it head on when the Internet makes it so easy for people to find out how to make it. But fast reactions are what is required, because people who become addicted tend to die within two years.”

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