Krokodil is a highly dangerous and addictive drug that originated in Russia. Around since 2003, this highly addictive, heroin-like substance has become a serious problem in Russia, causing an epidemic of drug use and spreading to nearby countries, including Serbia. According to news reports, it made its way over to the States in late 2013. It gets its name from the Russian for crocodile, the reason being its most grisly side effects. The drug causes the skin around the point of infection to turn green and scaly. It can rot the flesh of addicts, and many refer to it as the ‘Zombie Drug’.
Where did Krokodil come from?
Krokodil was developed in Russia, where it is particularly hard to smuggle heroin. Officials believe addicts began experimenting to find an alternative that was easier to obtain. Because all of the ingredients in Krokodil are easy to come by, it has made the drug readily available, and the amount of the drug seized by Russian authorities increased 23 fold between 2009 and 2012. In the first few months of 2012 alone, Russian authorities seized 65 million Krokodil doses (1). In 2013 there was widespread media frenzy as two suspected cases of Krokodil use caused concern that the drug had made its way to the States. These news reports are often exaggerated, however, and with heroin readily available and the main ingredient of Krokodil – codeine – needing a prescription, the chances of it being adopted on the same scale as in Russia are very slim (2).
What is Krokodil made from?
Officially known as Desomorphine, Krokodil is a cocktail of dangerous ingredients. Users make Krokodil by cooking codeine with ingredients such as lighter fluid, paint thinners, hydrochloric acid, and iodine (3). It is ten times more potent than morphine, and gives users a high similar to that of heroin.
Krokodil can be taken in pill form, although it takes a couple of hours to take effect. For this reason, most users taken it intravenously.
What are the side effects of Krokodil?
Krokodil is an incredibly lethal drug, even more dangerous than heroin. While it may give users a feeling of euphoria, the mixture of dangerous ingredients causes some extreme Krokodil side effects. The mixture rots flesh from the inside, leaving the user with exposed muscle and bone. As well as scaly skin, external side effects include festering sores. Krokodil damages and destroys the blood vessels it is injected into, which can lead to circulation problems.
It also causes brain damage. Long term users are often left with speech impediments and erratic movement. Rotting flesh and loss of skin often leads to gangrene and infections. The average life expectancy of an addict is just one to three years.
Why do people use Krokodil?
With so many hideous side effects, you may be wondering why anyone would use such a lethal drug. Unfortunately from a drug addict’s point of view, things are not so simple. There are already over a million Krokodil users in Russia. People use Krokodil because it gives the same effects as heroin, yet costs around a tenth of the price (4). For an addict, who could find that money is one of the biggest barriers for their drug habit, Krokodil seems like the perfect alternative.
The other thing to consider is that addiction is a disease in itself. Users who are affected to a substance slowly build up a tolerance to its effects. This means that they need to take larger and larger doses in order to achieve the same buzz. This is often what leads people from less severe drugs to more dangerous substances such as cocaine and heroin. A heroin user who is building up a tolerance can turn to Krokodil, which is three times more powerful than heroin.
Once a user has tried Krokodil, it is likely already too late. The euphoric feeling only lasts for around two hours, and then withdrawal symptoms set in. Krokodil is highly addictive – perhaps even more so than heroin. While heroin withdrawal symptoms can last for a week, reports state that Krokodil withdrawal can last for an entire month. Like heroin withdrawal, coming off Krokodil is an extremely painful process, so it is no surprise that many addicts start taking the drug again to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms.
Treating Krokodil users
Because of the severity of the side effects, Krokodil symptoms can be hard to treat. Medication may be required to combat any infections or gangrene caused by the user’s open wounds and exposed flesh. Badly affected limbs may need to be amputated.
Once a user has beaten their Krokodil addiction, a serious feat that requires specialist Krokodil addiction treatment – they may need surgery to repair their body. Exposed bones, open muscle, and missing skin may need surgery to repair, and skin grafts to cover the affected areas.
Help with Krokodil addiction
Users with a Krokodil addiction require treatment and help as soon as possible. With such severe and lethal side effects, Krokodil can claim a person’s life in just a couple of years. Withdrawal is hard and painful, which is why you need the help and support of trained specialists and a Krokodil treatment center. Call Steps to Recovery today for more information on Krokodil addiction treatment.