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What is Krokodil (Desomorphine)?

Krokodil is the street name for a semi-synthetic opioid known as desomorphine. It produces effects similar to other opioids like heroin or morphine, however, it is 10 times more potent.[1] Desomorphine is a Schedule I substance in the United States, which means it has a high abuse potential with no known medical uses.

The drug is referred to as krokodil because it can produce greenish and scaly skin in long-term users due to damaged blood vessels, blocked veins or arteries, and damaged soft tissue around injection sites.[1] As a result, abusing krokodil repeatedly could cause your skin to appear somewhat similar to a crocodile’s. Unfortunately, skin issues are only one of the consequences of abusing desomorphine, as the repeated use of this substance can lead to amputation and even death. 

How is Krokodil Used?

Krokodil is synthesized in home-based manufacturing sites. There is no way to tell what additional ingredients and cutting agents are added to the desomorphine you use. When people abuse this drug, they tend to inject it intravenously. 

If you inject krokodil, you will experience a rapid onset of effects after about 2 to 3 minutes. Krokodil is 10 to 15 times more potent than morphine and about 3 times as toxic.[1] It is important to note that when the toxic additive chemicals are removed from desomorphine, the substance is similar to heroin.

The effects associated with krokodil last less than 2 hours, which often causes people to continually abuse the drug to maintain their high, leading to the rapid development of dependency and addiction. Unfortunately, addiction to krokodil is extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening due to the long-term effects associated with the substance.

What is Krokodil Made Of?

Since krokodil emerged in Russia in 2003, the substance has been analyzed to determine which chemicals are used to create it. While these chemicals may vary based on who is synthesizing the drug, most people use a similar combination of substances.

Krokodil may contain:[2]

  • Paint thinner
  • Petrol/Gasoline
  • Red phosphorous
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Codeine tablets or other similar opioids
  • Iodine
  • Alkali solutions
  • Organic solvent
  • Acidified water

These additives can cause significant damage to your health. Unfortunately, individuals who are addicted to krokodil will not stop abusing the drug despite being aware of the toxic chemicals it contains. You should always attend a medical detox program and inpatient addiction treatment center if you are struggling with a krokodil addiction. 

Side Effects of Krokodil 

The short and long-term side effects of krokodil can be extreme, often leading to significant physical health hazards. Studies have found that people who inject krokodil present a great variety of serious signs and symptoms, including thrombophlebitis, ulcerations, gangrene, and necrosis, quickly evolving to limb amputation and death.”[2]

The side effects of injecting desomorphine include:[3]

  • Blood vessel damage (thrombophlebitis)
  • Open ulcers
  • Gangrene
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Need for skin grafts and surgery
  • Limb amputations
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood poisoning (bacteremia)
  • Meningitis
  • Rotting gums or tooth loss
  • Blood-borne virus transmission
  • Bone infections (osteomyelitis) and osteonecrosis
  • Speech and motor skills impairment
  • Memory loss and concentration issues
  • Damage to the liver and kidney 
  • Overdose
  • Respiratory depression (slowed or stopped breathing)
  • Death

According to an article about krokodil on CNN, at least 5 people were hospitalized in a suburb of Chicago with injuries consistent with desomorphine abuse. Dr. Abhin Singla went on to describe the drug, stating that “It’s a zombie drug – it literally kills you from the inside out, if you want a way to die, this is a way to die.”[4]

While desomorphine can produce effects similar to heroin, the risk of abusing it greatly outweighs the short-lived high you may experience. Repeated injections of this drug can cause you to develop gangrene, experience necrosis of the skin, and have black and green scaly skin that resembles that of a crocodile. Keeping all of this in mind, krokodil abuse is just not worth the risk. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from desomorphine addiction, please reach out to a professional addiction treatment center. The longer you abuse this drug, the more likely it is that you will develop irreversible health conditions. 

Find Help for Krokodil Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one frequently abuse krokodil, you must seek help from a drug rehab center as soon as possible. This drug can wreak havoc on your body, leading to skin necrosis, amputations, and even death. Despite these significant health risks, quitting the abuse of krokodil is extremely difficult when you are suffering from an addiction. 

Attending a drug rehab program can provide you with the tools and support you need to successfully overcome a desomorphine addiction. To learn more about our addiction treatment programs in South Florida, contact Mandala Healing Center today.