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New Drug Krokodil Sinks Sharp Teeth Into Drug Users

Nicknamed the “flesh eating zombie drug,” krokodil is just the latest nightmare drug to crop up in the United States. Harsh, highly addictive, and physically damaging, it is even worse than heroin. Krokodil has sharp teeth, and it’s taking a nasty bite out of the addicted population.

What Is Krokodil?

The word krokodil is Russian for “crocodile.” It’s also the name of a deadly new drug that is ravaging drug users around the world. Like its namesake, krokodil is ruthless, destructive, and deadly. Krokodil appeared in Siberia, Russia in 2002 and eventually spread to the United States in 2013.

Krokodil is desomorphine, a compound drug made from cooking codeine with paint thinner, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, iodine and the red phosphorous from matchbox strike pads. The cooking process takes about half an hour, and then the drug is injected intravenously. Krokodil produces a high for two hours or less—and then sends the user into immediate withdrawal. This cycle sets the krokodil user up for non-stop drug seeking, preparation, and using. Every two hours, more of the drug is needed to stay high and prevent the horrific come-down.

What are the effects of Krokodil?

Krokodil got its name because of the horrible side effects of injecting it. The toxic chemicals in each shot are highly caustic, and turn the user’s skin green, bumpy, and scaly, like a crocodile’s skin. If the needle misses the user’s vein, painful abscesses are guaranteed. Krokodil is called “the flesh eating zombie drug” because it literally eats the flesh off the drug user’s bones, leaving nothing behind. Users suffer from amputation, extreme infection, and abscesses that leave bones showing through muscle and skin as the user’s body rots.

Who is Krokodil affecting the most?

Krokodil is such a powerful drug that it’s taking over opiates for the top drug of choice. Krokodil is cheaper than heroin and offers a stronger high, so heroin users often resort to krokodil when they can’t afford heroin any more. In Russia, heroin is ten times more expensive than krokodil—you do the math. Two Russian governors confirmed that “krokodil accounts for about half of all addictions and drug-related deaths in their regions.”

Currently, about a million Russians are hooked on krokodil. Cheaper, more lethal, and more addictive than heroin, it’s killing more people than heroin does, too. Although the average Moscow heroin addict is expected to live for 4 to 7 years, the life expectancy of a krokodil addict is less than two years. And that’s the “best case scenario.” No current data is available for users in the United States.

Why is it so hard to quit Krokodil?

With a more intense high than heroin, krokodil also has a more severe withdrawal. Although opiates will clear the user’s system in about ten days, krokodil means a full month of painful withdrawals—so painful that the user will sometimes faint from the pain.

To get clean, the person who’s detoxing not only needs medical support, but heavy sedatives to tolerate the excruciating pain. Many treatment centers aren’t prepared to deal with this level of addiction—the average addict is physically “cleaned out” after two weeks or less. Furthermore, if the addict manages to get clean, they may have permanent brain damage, a speech impediment, blank stare, and irregular muscle movements like a twitch or tremor.

After a mere four years in the United States, krokodil is already preying on our vulnerable addict communities. In the midst of a deadly opiate epidemic, this monster is one to watch out for—and avoid at all costs.

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