This is how cocaine is making people’s skin rot/Πώς η κοκαΐνη σαπίζει το δέρμα των ανθρώπων
|File photos showing how Levamisole-contaminated cocaine can rot the skin (Pictures: BMJ)|
Cocaine is causing people’s skin and flesh to rot away.
Batches of the class A drug that are arriving in the UK and US are now routinely cut with Levamisole, a potent de-wormer used on horses and cows that has been banned for human consumption.
It is particularly dangerous because it causes blood vessels to inflame and rupture, turning people’s ears black and rotting the skin away to cause massive sores.
One 42-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with severe joint and muscle pain, stomach pain and horrific skin lesions.
|A 42-year-old woman was admitted with huge skin lesions (Picture: BMJ)|
The British Medical Journal< reported that after drug testing on her hair, it transpired she had taken cocaine cut with Levamisole. As cocaine and Levamisole was found very close to the root of her hair, where it would have been in contact with her scalp, it revealed she had taken the drug very recently.
Last year, the then-Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker ordered tests to be carried out on shipments of cocaine that were seized as they were brought into the UK.
Those tests revealed that around four-fifths of all cocaine being brought into the country is cut with the skin-rotting veterinary drug. So if a person takes cocaine, there is an 80 per cent chance it’s contaminated.
|File photo showing how Levamisole causes the skin to rot (Picture: BMJ)|
Previously, cocaine was left uncut at the source. It tended to arrive in the UK uncontaminated, and it was British dealers who would later cut it with baking soda.
But now it’s apparently being cut with the cheap, dangerous substance before leaving its country of origin in South America – meaning that cocaine producers are making even greater profits at the expense of users’ health.
Cocaine: What does it really do to your body?
Even without Levamisole contamination, cocaine can cause significant health problems.
- Cocaine stimulates the heart and nervous system, which can cause a fatal heart attack if a person overdoses.
- It works by overstimulating the production of dopamine, the chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. However prolonged use can desensitise the brain and decrease dopamine production, leading to depression in long-term users.
- If snorted, cocaine can damage the cartilage in your nose over time and can even lead to a loss of smell.
It was first discovered that cocaine was being used as a widespread cocaine adulterant in 2011, when a number of patients exhibited severe symptoms after taking the drug.
A study was conducted on six people who had were rushed into hospital with severe skin lesions and dark purple patches. These were later found to be Levamisole poisoning, and the findings were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Perhaps the most dangerous side effect of Levamisole poisoning, however, is that it causes a severe drop in a person’s white blood cell count.
This means that the body’s natural defences against infections are down.
‘It’s a little bit like having HIV,’ Dr Noah Craft, a dermatologist with the LA biomedical research institute, told ABC News at the time of the US outbreak.
‘About 10 percent of those patients will die from severe infections. They may be walking around like a time bomb.’
According to the latest government figures powder cocaine is the second most commonly used drug in the UK, with around 2.3 per cent of adults aged between 16 and 59 reporting to take it.