COCAINE users are being warned their skin and genitals could ROT away because the drug is being laced with dangerous cattle de-wormer.
Around two thirds of the Class A drug smuggled into Britain is cut with levamisole, which is fed to cows and horses.
This woman, who had been taking cocaine laced with de-wormer levamisole, noticed the skin on her face was starting to rotBMJ CASE REPORTS
The news comes as The Sun launches its End Of The Line campaign to raise awareness of the devastating effect the drug can have on users’ mental and physical health.
Cocaine use has doubled in the UK over the last five years, and use among young people is surging, with 20 per cent of 16 – 24-year-olds taking it in the last year.
Cocaine used to arrive in the UK from South America in pure form, but drug gangs now cut the product before it is shipped.
Levamisole is cheap in countries such as Colombia and Venezuela and acts as a stimulant so it’s easy to disguise to users.
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It was used to treat arthritis and bowel cancer in the past, but it was banned for use by humans in 2000.
This was due to the severe side effects, including damaging white blood cells so badly that it causes skin rotting.
Now, it’s only supposed to be used in veterinary medicine to kill parasitic worms.
But there have been a number of reported cases where people have been left with rotting skin after taking cocaine that’s been mixed with the chemical.
A man in Colombia whose ear had turned black and started to die after his blood was poisoned by the chemical laced drugBMJ CASE REPORTS
In another Colombian case, this person’s stomach turned black and was rotting awayBMJ CASE REPORTS
Doctors in Colombia published a report in BMJ Case Reports of 11 patients who had all taken cocaine-levamisole that had caused parts of their face, limbs, buttocks and stomach to rot away.
For three of them, the blood supply to the genitals had been cut off – causing the skin to turn black and die.
The group were aged between 31 and 39, nine of them were men and all of them had been using cocaine for more than two years.
Experts said that cases had risen due to the use of cocaine mixed with the chemical, and as well as the skin concerns, they also noted joint and lung conditions.
They were treated with steroids and after quitting drugs, all of the patients were able to recover.
A 68-year-old woman from Texas, USA, went to doctors with a red blood blister on the end of her nose having taken cocaine that had been cut with the veterinary medicineBMJ Case Reports
She had these huge blisters all over her forearm which were dark and painfulBMJ Case Reports
In another case, a 42-year-old woman went to see her doctor in the Netherlands complaining of ulcerating sores on her legs and face.
She persistently denied substance abuse but after testing her hair for toxins, medics discovered she had been taking cocaine cut with levamisole.
In another instance, in Texas, USA, a 68-year-old woman went to doctors with a blood-filled blister on the end of her nose while her forearms and face were covered in fleshy sores.
Tests revealed she had been taking cocaine laced with levamisole and doctors diagnosed her with vasculitis – an inflammation of the blood vessels.
She was told to stop using the drugs and her condition cleared up in six months.
One man’s penis was left rotting and had turned black after he took drugs laced with the chemicalbmj case reports
End Of The Line
Cocaine use is reaching epidemic levels in Britain, with the UK branded the ‘Coke capital’ of Europe.
Use has doubled in the last five years, and with young people the numbers are even worse.
A staggering one in five 16-to-24-year-olds have taken cocaine in the last year.
That’s why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, calling for more awareness around the drug.
Cocaine use can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia, while doctors have linked the rise in cheap, potent coke to an increase in suicide rates.
People from all walks of life, from builders and labourers to celebrities like Jeremy McConnell – who is backing our campaign – have fallen foul of its lure.
It’s an issue that is sweeping the UK and, unless its tackled now, means a mental health crisis is imminent.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patient.info, says people need to know about the risks they are taking when using coke.
She said: “When you buy recreational drugs, you’re not just putting yourself at risk from the drug itself.
“Unscrupulous drug dealers often ‘cut’ their drug with other, cheaper products to increase their profits even further. And they don’t care how dangerous those other products are.
“Levamisole is one such product – it’s used to deworm cattle but used to be used to treat cancer in humans before it was taken off the market because of safety concerns.
“It can cause complete collapse of your immune system and even cause your skin to rot.
“There is no cure for either of these side effects – people just have to be admitted to hospital and given therapy to try and prevent life-threatening complications.”
Politicians have previously warned over the dangers of levamisole-laced cocaine making its way to the UK.
Lib Dem MP and former Crime Prevention Minister, Norman Baker, told The Sun in 2014: “Those who choose to use cocaine and think they know what they’re doing are playing Russian Roulette with their lives.
Where to go for help
Helpline open 24/7: 0300 123 6600
For help finding a service or to Instant chat
Help for anyone with drug and alcohol issues.
Dedicated help for people under 25.
Mental health support line: 0300 304 7000
Rehab and community addiction treatment
0300 330 0659
Helpline open 9am-9pm, 7 days a week
0300 888 3853
Help for families affected by drugs and alcohol
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“They have no idea what is in them. Who wants cattle dewormer up their nose?”
Almost all cocaine and crack sold on the street is diluted by at least one of other chemical, studies have shown.
They are often local anesthetics such as benzocaine, lidocaine and phenacetin, but can also include paracetamol or lactose.
Another case saw one person with dark marks covering their legs and back after taking cocaine cut with dewormerBMJ CASE REPORTS
One woman had open ulcers on her legs that wouldn’t heal but denied she was taking drugsBMJ CASE REPORTS
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