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Krokodil: A Deadly Flesh Eating Street Drug

  • Date: 2013/10/04 (Rev: 2017/02/21) Thomas C. Weiss - Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Information regarding Krokodil a new and deadly drug making its way onto the city streets of the United States.

Main Document

A deadly homemade street drug from Russia appears to have made its way into the United States. Some people in the state of Arizona are believed to have used Krokodil, a heroin-like street drug, which rots a person's skin from the inside out.

krokodil is defined as a homemade drug that can contain codeine, lighter fluids, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol, and other ingredients. The drug eats the user from the inside out, rotting the flesh and leaving bone and muscle tissue exposed. The skin takes on a scaly, green appearance, earning its name of krokodil, Russian for "crocodile." The drug breaks down skin and muscle fibers at an astounding rate. The life expectancy of a heavy user is approximately 2-3 years from when the habit begins.

In two other cities in America, people are believed to have used this lethal illegal drug, which is named for the crocodile look it gives to a person's rotting flesh. Barbara Carreno of the Drug Enforcement Administration stated, "We've been following this drug overseas for several years. We are very concerned about the possibility of this drug coming to the U.S."

Krokodil is a homemade illegal drug that combines codeine with gasoline, lighter fluid, alcohol and additional dangerous ingredients. It was first used in Russia in the year 2003. Krokodil most likely became a drug used in Russia because it was hard to smuggle heroin.

Russia has more heroin users than any other nation in the world, around two million. For most of these people their life involves crime, time in prison, the likelihood of contracting hepatitis C and HIV, as well as an early death. Efforts to stop the flow of heroin into Russia have found some success and the price of heroin on the streets of Russia have increased. For people who are unable to afford heroin, Krokodil has become a drug of choice instead.

Krokodil is, 'desomorphine,' which is a synthetic opiate several times more powerful than heroin. It can be made from household ingredients that are readily available and cheap. It is a drug for people who are poor and has truly terrifying effects.

Use and Effects of Krokodil

People who use this illegal drug inject it because it delivers a faster, 'high.' The drug literally eats a person from the inside out, rotting their flesh and leaving their bones and muscle tissue exposed. The person's skin becomes scaly and green. If the person using Krokodil misses a vein as they inject it they will experience an abscess. In essence, they are injecting poison into their flesh. Users of this drug are often hesitant to go the hospital, despite loss of flesh turning gray and peeling away to leave their bones exposed.

Chart showing Krokodil symptomsAbout This Image: Chart showing Krokodil symptoms Drug users in America may have heard of Krokodil and searched for information on web sites. An addiction to opiates or alcohol is a disease and people become desperate. Taking pills might not be enough for them and they may be looking for ways to get high.

Treating people who use Krokodil is a process. Medications to reverse the effects are one means of treatment. People may require skin grafts, wound care and surgery if they survive injections of this lethal drug.

Heroin addicts in Russia discovered how to make Krokodil several years ago and since that time there has been a steady increase in its use. The sales of codeine-based medications have multiplied. It is pretty clear that not everyone in Russia has suddenly developed headaches or other legitimate reasons for wanting codeine.

Addiction to heroin kills around 30,000 people in Russia every year, or around one-third of global deaths from the drug. Add to this issue the problem of Krokodil. A few years ago in Russia, drug treatment centers reported that nearly all their drug users used heroin. Now they report that half of them are using Krokodil instead.

Krokodil use in Russia is a large and hidden epidemic involving thousands of people.

Its use is present in isolated parts of the nation as well as in cities. Krokodil causes the strongest levels of addiction and is the hardest to cure. For example, heroin withdrawal presents symptoms that last from 5-10 days with a danger of relapse, yet no physical pain after this period of time. Krokodil withdrawal pain may last up to 30 days and is unbearable. People trying to withdraw from Krokodil have to be injected with extremely strong tranquilizers simply to keep them from passing out from the pain they experience.

Chart showing means of Krokodil treatmentAbout This Image: Chart showing means of Krokodil treatment

People who use Krokodil are easily identifiable by their smell.

They smell of iodine, which infuses all of their clothing. There is no way to wash the smell out; all that can be done with the clothing is to destroy it. Any home that has been used to create Krokodil will always smell as well.

Krokodil addicts in Russia say they have never had any issues with buying the main ingredient to make the drug, codeine, because it is sold without a prescription. One addict stated they attempted to purchase four packs of codeine, only to be told by the woman at the counter they could only sell two packs to any one person. The addict said they purchased two packs, returned a few minutes later and bought more. It was clear to the woman behind the counter what he was doing, yet she did not refuse to sell him more codeine.

While a potential solution, making codeine a prescription medication, is rather clear - nothing has been done. Authorities in Russia have been aware of this issue for some time, yet have taken no action. The President of Russia has called for websites explaining how to make Krokodil to be closed down, although he has not banned codeine. Apparently, lobbying by pharmaceutical corporations is responsible for inaction.

The codeine tablets do not cost much and the profits from them are high.

Some pharmacies make up to 25% of their profits from the sale of codeine. It is not in the interests of pharmaceutical corporations or the pharmacies themselves to stop their current practices. Unlike heroin, where a high may last for several hours, the high from Krokodil last only 90 minutes to 2 hours. The process of creating Krokodil takes at least a half an hour, making a Krokodil addiction a full-time job.

For most Krokodil addicts, using the drug is something they do only when they run out of money for heroin. As soon as they have enough money they return to using heroin. In isolated areas of Russia where heroin is more expensive and people are poorer the issue with Krokodil is worse. People become addicted to Krokodil full-time and have a life expectancy of less than 1 year. Every addict of this drug knows it is cheaper and easier to get. They feel how disgusting it is to use and dream of heroin but they cannot afford it, so they use Krokodil - until they die. The dangerous and often times lethal drug has now found its way to America.

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