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SPECIAL REPORT: Krokodil: The Flesh-Eating Drug Threatening to Make Its Way to Our Shores

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A dangerous drug sweeping across eastern Europe is drawing the attention of law enforcement in our area tonight. It's called Krokodil. You're seeing the devastating effects the flesh eating drug can have. Rapidly making its way through Europe for the last decade, American Drug Enforcement Agents waited to snap into action against Krokodil, a drug that's injected and rots the user's skin. Krokodil turns flesh scaly, peeling with discoloring sores, resembling the skin of an actual crocodile, hence the name. This year media outlets across the states reported the deadly drug hitting the U.S.

Just how true are those reports? FOX17 went to the Drug Enforcement Agency's Nashville District Office to find out. Assistant Special Agent Michael Stanfill says Krokodil cases in America were all self reports.

A homemade attempt to recreate heroin, Krokodil's active ingredient is desomorphine, a Schedule I drug in the U.S., highly addictive.

Why isn't the narcotic hitting the country or Tennessee? One reason is codeine. In a Time Magazine video, Russian addicts mix liquids like gasoline or paint thinner to break down the codeine, which is regulated in the U.S. Thurman Strother, a Program Director for Foundations Recovery Network, says the narcotic can result in a zombie like state, organ failure, and death in just a couple of years.

Withdrawal is what Strother and the DEA say you should be concerned about. Most Krokodil users are previous heroin addicts who cannot afford the drug any longer or who built up a tolerance. For the same reasons, heroin addicts usually start on prescription pills like opiates (the #1 drug problem in the state), especially among young people in high school and college. Strother says addressing addiction at the first sign of any substance abuse is key in stopping the slippery slope to more dangerous drugs like Krokodil. Treatment is critical.

Josh Foster is a recovering drug and alcohol addict who sought treatment 6 years ago. Foster is now on the other side of the line. 2 years ago, he started working as an admissions counselor at Foundations Call Center. Before sobriety, the 29 year old from D.C. fronted the band Parachute Musical. In 2007, he moved to Nashville working for a country artist, touring Europe. Foster's addictions got him fired. Starting treatment for alcohol, opiates or Krokodil can end a journey down a potentially deadly path.

Foundations Recovery Network says 4 million people nationwide are seeking help for alcohol and drug addictions right now.

The Foundation says 23 million people really need help every year.

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