Two American sisters harmed by "Krokodil" are speaking out, and the drug that first surfaced in Russia in 2003 is now even getting an Americanized name -- Crocodile.
The Krokodil panic reached US shores in September, but the Illinois family speaking out have been affected by the dirty drug for at least a year -- meaning that Krokodil is possibly already harming IV drug users in American cities.
Amber Neitzel and her sister Angie Neitzel have both injected heroin before. But when a "new strain" that cost one tenth of what the women were used to paying appeared on the marked, the Neitzel women began to shoot it... and noticed a horrifying effect from the highly addictive drug.
Amber and Angie's mother is also a recovering heroin addict, and warned the girls about Krokodil in May. But when Angie noticed the telltale skin rot of Krokodil use seen in so many horrifying images out of Russia, she says she still didn't know that her newer, cheaper heroin was actually the adulterated injectable codeine:
'"Four weeks later I went to the hospital... They surgically removed it, but at the time they didn't know it was crocodile. They just thought I messed with a dirty needle or something like that."
The Neitzel women are not the only US intravenous drug users allegedly harmed by Krokodil's move to American drug culture -- two men are believed to have used Krokodil and died, and the friend of one 33-year-old Oklahoma man who experienced Krokodil-associated symptoms before his 2012 death
"There's not a day that I don't lay down and close my eyes and see him in that hospital bed... Everything that touched him took his skin off."
The sisters in Illinois who came forward about the Krokodil consequences say they hope to get clean as soon as possible and regain custody of their children.