Romario Dos Santos Alves is a 25-year-old bodybuilder who risked his life to look like the Incredible Hulk. Dos Santos injected himself with a Synthol - a synthetic filler made of oil and alcohol - risking death and amputation. Dos Santos now faces a bevy of health problems and fights the urge to inject himself every day, according to the Daily Mail.
Dos Santos discovered the drug through some guys at his gym. "I saw some really big guys in the gym with huge arms and I started to make friends with them. They introduced me to Synthol and I got excited about the results - I lost control," Dos Santos said, according to the Daily Mail.
Another Brazilian man, 43-year-old Arlindo de Souza - also known as "The Mountain" - also became addicted to Synthol. "You inject it and it swells you up without having to work out," de Souza said, according to the Daily Star. "Each time I took it I wanted more and more. For me there wasn't a limit."
A study published in 2012 investigated the case of a 29-year-old Middle Eastern male who used Synthol. "Synthol injections that are used for the short-term enhancement of muscle appearance by bodybuilders bear the danger of long-term painful muscle fibrosis and disfigurement," study authors wrote.
When Dos Santos' muscles were too hard for him to inject, he found more creative ways to take the Synthol. Sometimes, he would trick his wife into injecting him in hard-to-reach places. He told her the filler would leave his body and it wasn't harmful.
"I decided the only thing I could do was buy specialist needles to inject," Dos Santos said, according to the Daily Mail. "The kind of needles used on bulls - there are no stronger needles around - I know it seems stupid but I had to get my synthol fix."
The Synthol injections and resulting 25-inch biceps caused Dos Santos constant pain and eventually, kidney failure. Things got so bad that his wife made him chose: his family or the drugs. When his wife was 6-months pregnant, the muscle junkie fell into a depression and tried to kill himself, according to the Daily Mail. Synthol cost Dos Santos his health, his family, his job and nearly his life.
"I remember the doctor told me that they would need to amputate both arms - they said everything in there, all my muscles, were rock," Dos Santos said, according to the Daily Mail. Since then, Dos Santos said the doctors told him that they can try to avoid amputation, but they would have to dig his muscles out and remove the rock-like areas.
"I decided to fix my ways and I never again wanted to take any drugs, we went through a really hard time and almost starved," Dos Santos said, according to the Daily Mail. "If you take it once there will definitely be a second time - it's addictive."
The reactions to Dos Santos 'appearance are mixed. "One time I was working in a Catholic church and a woman came up to me and said that her 12-year-old daughter wouldn't come in because she was afraid of me," he said, according to the Daily Mail. "She said that she thought I was a beast, a monster - I just put my head down and didn't say anything."
The most dangerous reactions are from those who admire his physique. Dos Santos said the praise causes him a lot of temptation to use other muscle enhancing drugs.
The father-of-one hasn't given up his dream. "I regret it a lot - my ambition is still to become a bodybuilder but I've got a long way to go," Dos Santos said, according to the Daily Mail. "I know I will achieve it though."
"I want other people to see the dangers, I could have died all because I wanted bigger muscles," Dos Santos added. "It's just not worth it."