Woman warns against drug use
A Maritime woman is warning others about the dangers of drugs. The 42-year-old has spent the last four months in hospital after using crack cocaine.
“If you’re not a user, this is exactly what could happen to you, don’t start,” says the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The woman is warning others after an experience that almost took her life. She was using crack cocaine at a party and then left because she wasn’t feeling well. She woke up the next day covered in a purple rash.
“It felt like I was on fire. It was just like if I threw you in a fire pit. That’s what it felt like, that's how hot it was,” the woman tells CTV News. “I was screaming in pain. It was excruciating.”
Doctors believe the cocaine was laced with levamisole, an anti-worming medication for animals.
Studies have shown the medication is being added to cocaine. The drug is used to dilute the cocaine and may also increase the euphoric effects of the drugand cause serious side effects.
“The levamisole can induce an autoimmune reaction where your body basically attacks its own blood vessels and causes a vasculitis kind of picture,” says Dr. Jason Williams.
This is one of the most severe cases Dr. Williams has seen. The woman almost died and her symptoms turned into a situation much like a third-degree burn.
“About 60% of her skin died and had to be taken off and replaced with skin graphs,” says Dr. Williams.
After four months in hospital, she’s had nearly a dozen surgeries.
“All of my finger nails went black and all of my toenails went black,” says the woman.
She also had to have one of her feet amputated.
“She's still got a long road ahead of her to become mobile and functional again, but I guess it’s the happiest ending that we can expect in this case,” says Dr. Williams.
The woman has used crack cocaine for 20 years, still, she says she never imagined she'd end up in a situation like this. She's hoping by sharing her story, others never will.
“There's ways around it, to get off of it before it’s too late, it was almost too late for me.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster