"This may be an inexpensive high compared to other drugs, according to its reputation, (but it) is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms and be a real problem for users," Geller said. "My advice is to would-be users, 'Don't.' This is a risky way to try and get high."
The short half-life of the drug means a user's attention is narrowed to the "process of acquiring and preparing and administering the drug, leaving little time for matters other than avoiding withdrawal and chasing (the) high," according to one medical study, hence its reputation for creating "zombies."
Binges on the drug reportedly last over several days. During the binge, a user can show irrational behavior and experience sleep deprivation and exhaustion, memory loss and speech problems.
According to the Joliet hospital, the five people brought in who may have used krokodil said they thought they were buying heroin.
"I think it's the tip of the iceberg; I think it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better," said Singla, the addiction specialist. "I think if it stays on the market long enough, you're going to have people who are desperate addicts that can't support their heroin habit but can utilize this drug, not really caring about the consequences, and get the same high for a third of the price."