NORTHEAST WISCONSIN - You've likely heard the stories - heroin use is on the rise across the area. Now authorities are worried users might turn to a dangerous alternative.
Brown County's Drug Task Force says five years ago three grams of heroin were seized. Last year it was 55 grams. And already this year agents have seized 149 grams.
While heroin remains on the radar, so is something called krokodil. This dangerous drug is being used as a substitute for heroin.
It's showing up in parts of the U.S., including the Chicago area.
It eats flesh from the inside out and can be deadly.
Images show some of the side effects of using krokodil. We found it gets worse than this. But those pictures were too graphic to air.
"Part of me says if every drug had side effects like this we probably would not have a drug problem," said Brown County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Poteat.
Krokodil has been seen in cases reported in Illinois, as well as Oklahoma and Arizona. The drug, which gives users a heroin-like high, originated in Russia.
With Wisconsin's growing heroin problem, Poteat, who also heads up the county's drug task force, says krokodil could show up in our state.
While the drug hasn't been seen locally, it may already be here. Poteat says it's unknown how far it's spread.
"It is a concern. I mean it's a health issue for sure, not that heroin use isn't, so I guess in some levels it's kind of just the same thing. But I think we want to warn people of the consequences of that," Poteat said.
Given Krokodil's side effects, you might ask yourself why anyone would use the drug. Law enforcement officials say it comes down to money.
"A gram of heroin is going for around $300 something of that nature. You can get an injection, a shot, of krokodil, for $6 to $8," Poteat said.
Krokodil is also easy to make. It's generally made by mixing codeine with gasoline, lighter fluid or paint thinner.
Poteat says in the cases that have been reported, users likely thought they were buying heroin.
"If someone said I have some krokodil for you, I'd be like what is that. And even, I don't think it would take someone very long to Google it, look it up online, and find out this isn't what I'm looking for," said Poteat.
Area hospitals say they see plenty of heroin users, and krokodil is on their radar.
"We would expect that there would be some potential use of it in the future," said Dr. Chris Thompson, ER Medical Director at St. Vincent and St. Mary's hospitals in Green Bay.
Thompson says doctors are ready to treat the drug's side effects.
"If we thought it was an infection, it would be treated with antibiotics, and potentially surgery. And some of the chemicals that they're injecting literally just dissolve away some of the tissue in their arm or leg or wherever they inject it. And that would usually require surgery," Thompson said.
Poteat says if Krokodil does make it's way to Wisconsin, he doesn't see it as something that's going to take off. He feels that's because the high is not worth the consequences.
So far, there are no officially confirmed cases of krokodil abuse. To have official confirmation, the Drug Enforcement Administration would need a sample of the drug which caused the problem.
UW-Oshkosh's third biodigester to create green energy is now officially open.
Fire destroyed a house in Kewaunee County Wednesday afternoon.
Wind, snow, cold and ice played a role as firefighters battled a fire in downtown Ripon Wednesday morning.
Outagamie County's second largest employer is expanding, and veterans are encouraged to apply.
The State Building Commission has approved $5 million to help build the Wisconsin Maritime Center of Excellence in Marinette.
Fond du Lac police have released more information about the weapons they found in the apartment of a man who was at the center of a five-hour standoff on Monday.