A devastating new street drug is literally causing the flesh to rot right off the bone of its users.
The drug, called “crocodile” or “krokodil,” is a type of homemade desomorphine which is created by using codeine and other ingredients, such as gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine, and red phosphorus. In Russia, where its use originated, codeine was legal to purchase without a prescription until the government cracked down on it in 2012. Until then it surged in popularity because it was so easy to obtain the necessary ingredients.
When users inject the drug into a vein or muscle, it takes effect within a matter of minutes, but the high lasts less than two hours.
Unfortunately, because these mixtures tend to be so impure, the skin around the injection site often begins to turn greenish-gray and scaly, which some say is where the name “Krokodil” originates. Yet other says that the name comes from the fact that it tends to cut off the blood supply to the area, causing its victims to develop gangrene and lose the limb, much like if it was bitten off by a crocodile.
It has been said that those who use the drug become consumed by the process. They must cook the drug – which takes about 30 minutes – inject it, then about 30 minutes to an hour and a half later they must begin the process all over again. And, getting off the never-ending treadmill of drug use is nearly impossible, they say, despite its devastating effect of rotting off flesh, even down to the bone sometimes. Krokodil is even more addictive than heroin.
Once a person becomes addicted to the drug, experts say, they go downhill quickly, with the average user not lasting longer than two to four years.
In 2011, it was estimated that as many as 2 million Russians were addicted to this drug. At that time, Krokodil use had also begun to spread to other parts of Europe as well, with Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine also being affected.
And, the first cases of its use are now starting to appear in the United States.
According to Dr. Frank LoVecchio, co-medical director at Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center located in Arizona, two cases of Krokodil use have appeared in his state. However, he refused to comment on how those people were doing.
To the best of his knowledge, these are the first cases that have occurred within the United States.
However, some, like Dr. Lewis Nelson, a medical toxicologist at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, had previously expressed doubts about whether Krokodil use would reach to the United States. Its biggest draw in countries like Russia has been the fact that it was so cheap compared to similar drugs like heroin. In the U.S. there are other inexpensive and equally powerful drugs, such as black tar heroin and Oxycontin, which are readily available.
Now that it has reached the U.S., many are hoping that the pictures of flesh rotting off the bone like the following will be enough to discourage any potential Krokodil users from ever trying this devastating drug.
Written by: Nancy Schimelpfening