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Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in September of 2013 doctors in Arizona were understandably alarmed after two potentially related cases of a now infamous flesh eating Krokodil drug appeared in the state, one of the first ever reports of the drug in America. That year doctors in Illinois also reported treating individuals suffering serious damage due to use of the corrosive recreational narcotic. Since then the drug has seemingly been absent from the front lines of the opioid epidemic in America. However, after a few recent reports, some are worried it might make a surprising comeback. This time, it appears Krokodil has resurfaced on the East Coast.
What is Krokodil?
The main ingredient in Krokodil is the drug desomorphine. It is a derivative of morphine that is 8 to 10 times more potent. Desomorphine was first patented in the United States in 1932.
The drug got its now notorious nickname from the Russian word for crocodile; due to the fact users often develop scale-like, green skin. Other permanent effects of the drug include:
- Speech impediments
- Erratic movement
Krokodil can be manufactured illicitly from products such as:
- Hydrochloric acid
- Red phosphorus
However, artificially producing desomorphine like this causes the drug to be dangerously impure. It contains toxic and corrosive byproducts from the home-made chemical combination. The rotting effect these chemicals have on the flesh is why many people call it the ‘zombie drug’.
Krokodil in Europe
As a recreational and injectable drug, ill-reputed and home-made Krokodil was first reported in the middle and eastern areas of Siberia way back in 2002. According to medical reports, it then quickly spread across Russia and other Soviet republics with a distressing impact on those it came into contact with. The drug became so popular because compared to the more mainstream opioids like heroin the high is much stronger and it was extremely cheap to produce. The drug is also highly addictive.
This drug has devastating effects on its users, who have an average life span of only 2 to 3 years after they start using. The chemicals within Krokodil literally rot and eat people away from the inside.
Krokodil Coming to America
In 2013 the leg of a young woman in Lockport Illinois named Amber Neitzel, 26 at the time, was photographed because of the intense damage Krokodil had done to her tissue. Most of the previous reports of Krokodil in the U.S. appeared mostly in the Southwest. Now one story has some worried it’s back and getting around.
An overdose patient found all but rotting alive in Manchester, New Hampshire last week told responders he believed he’d been injecting the drug Krokodil. In relation to the story, reporters spoke with Chris Hickey with American Medical Response, who said,
“It’s pretty much the dirty sister of morphine and heroin,’ Hickey said. ‘A lot of times, it’s cut with something like gasoline or the ground-up red phosphorus from the tips of matches or drain cleaner.”
“With someone who is literally rotting away in front of you it turns the stomach of even the most seasoned provider.”
The opioid epidemic is already affecting the vast majority of Americans in one way or another, whether they are struggling or someone they know, and most experts predict we still haven’t reached the pinnacle of the problem.
Already there are awfully hazardous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil being slipped into the illegal drug trade through heroin and home-pressed prescription pill form. These two substances alone have supplied most states with a surge of opioid overdoses and deaths.
If Krokodil is really making a comeback, how much worse could the opioid epidemic get and how quickly will law enforcement, public health officials and communities be ready to respond? Will this be the deciding factor in pushing the overdose death rates to new and demoralizing peaks?
Drugs like these are far too real and costing far too many people their lives. There is another way, but it begins with taking action. Seeking safe and effective treatment can be a crucial step to changing your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Like with any other hard-to-believe story, the case of the drug Krokodil is being sensationalized in the news. The drug is very real and now that there have been at least a handful of cases, we are seeing more and more coverage about it in the news.
Krokodil is a nasty drug that is said to give you a higher high but at the fraction of the price of heroin. The trade-off, however, is that it literally costs you an arm and a leg: it’s an opiate unlike any other opiate – one that is mixed with a series of dangerous poisons that lead to tissue death in the addict’s body resulting in amputation.
Krokodil, whose medical name is desomorphine, has been called a ‘moonshine drug’ because addicts are often able to cook the narcotic at home. Reports have stated that krokodil can have gasoline, bleach, oil, paint thinner, and who knows what else. This concoction can leave traces of toxins in the final product – which is then injected.
You can’t take this drug without actually poisoning yourself. You are literally poisoning yourself when you use krokodil. It’s very corrosive and toxic. The drug gets its name from the green, scaly sores that users often develop. Horrific photos of the drug’s side effects have circulated on the Internet. Pictures and videos of users in Russia show blackened fingertips, large open wounds, and even exposed bone where skin has fallen off. Prolonged or even short-term use can damage blood vessels, muscle, cartilage, and bone, and amputation is frequently the only way to save a patient’s life.
In September, doctors in Arizona sounded the alarm after two potentially related cases of krokodil abuse were reported in the state. And, over the past few weeks, doctors in Arizona and Illinois have reported treating users of krokodil. One such doctor describes the experience: “the smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they are often not enough to save limbs or lives.” He went on to say, “If you want to kill yourself, this is the way to do it.”
Doctors have warned of the horrifying side effects of the homemade drug, which is said to give a more powerful high than heroin and is much cheaper to produce. The finished product isn’t purified and may contain toxic substances left over from the cooking process, which cause tissue damage to the veins and flesh and can result in gangrene, or body tissue that rots and dies. Some addicts in Russia have developed brain damage and speech impediments in addition to the horrific scars.
Prevalent in Siberia and the Russian Far East, the explosion of users first began in 2002. The numbers of Russians using the drug is thought to have tripled over the past five years. Although krokodil first took hold in Russia, where hundreds of thousands of users were reported in 2010, the drug has apparently arrived in the United States.
And so, even though there have only been a few cases of krokodil use in the US so far, the mere existence of this drug makes it news-worthy. And the fact that this drug is so highly addictive that its use spreads like wildfire, as seen across Germany and Russia, it is a real threat.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or drug addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.
Just two weeks ago we wrote about the terrifying drug Krokodil that was growing in popularity in Russia and other European cities. Now there is evidence that the drug has arrived on American soil. The Banner Poison Control center in Arizona has reported the first two users of the drug — which has been available in Russia for more than a decade — here in the U.S.
Krokodil attracted international attention 2010 after illicit manufacture of the drug started increasing in Russia. Pictures of junkies began circulating the web, showing the severe tissue damage and gangrene that can result from the use of the drug, sometimes requiring limb amputation. There is so much tissue damage associated with the use of this drug that addicts are estimated to have a life expectancy of 1-2 years.
Krokodil, or desomorphine, is a derivative of morphine that is 8 to 10 times more potent. It can be manufactured illicitly from codeine and other easily obtained products, like red phosphorus and gasoline. However, desomorphine manufactured this way is highly impure and contains toxic and corrosive byproducts.
It has become popular in Russia, because it is cheap–it can cost 20 times less than heroin-and can be made easily at home.
The drug got its nickname from the Russian world for crocodile, because users tend to develop scale-like, green skin. Other permanent effects of the drug include speech impediments and erratic movement. Rotting flesh, jerky movements, and speech troubles have prompted media outlets to tag krokodil the “zombie drug.”
A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration told Mother Jones that the agency had not yet confirmed the reported cases in Arizona, but, she added, “This concerns us very much.”
If you or someone you love is seeking help for substance abuse or addiction please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.