Desomorphine, also known as Krokodil is a drug that was first invented in the United States in 1932. Krokodil is an opiate analogue, a derivate of morphine that was created with the intended use as an alternative to morphine. It spread through Russia around the year 2000 and in 2010 it was estimated that up to one million Russians were using Krokodil. Krokodil usually kills users within a few years of their first use sometimes as early as a few months with continuous use.
Desomorphine is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States and is not yet a key problem in the United States although the DEA is monitoring the situation in Russia carefully.
Krokodil is prominent in Russia and is known as being the cheap alternative to heroin for poor Russians. An attraction to Krokodil is the price. Heroin costs an average of $20 to $60 per dose while Krokodil cost only $2 per packet.
Krokodil is cooked with a mixture of toxic chemicals and ingredients including codeine, paint thinner, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorus. All these cooked together create use for those seeking a cheap injectable high comparable to heroin. Cooking Krokodil takes around an hour while the high from injecting Krokodil lasts up to 90 minutes. For this reason many users can continue using consistently cooking and using without any gaps between so as to avoid suffering from the severe withdrawal symptoms.
Krokodil has severe and likely health risks that come from use. Emphasis must be put on the severity of the side-effects and how great a chance there is of them occurring in comparison with the chance of side-effects from other recreational drugs.
Common side effects of Krokodil include:
- Disrupts endocrine system
- Causes muscular disorders
- Attacks bone tissue
- Causes Nervous system disorders
- Mineral imbalances
- Inflammation of liver and kidneys
- Weakened immune system
- Circulation damaged to the point that limbs wither and die; amputation often necessary
- The user ‘rots alive’
- Veins blow up near the injection site
- Flesh and skin are rotted away leaving bare bone
- Brain damage
- Rotting teeth
- Hepatitis C is reported in 33% of the addicts in Russia
- Common fatality from pneumonia
- Common fatality from aneurysms
- Common fatality from blood poisoning
- Common fatality from meningitis
An overdose from Krokodil normally results in immediate death from the effects listed above. Most krokodil users are dead within three years.
Krokodil is highly addictive with many users developing an addiction from their first hit, many have described it as more addicting than heroin. Krokodil withdrawals can last up to a month where the user experiences unbearable pain.
Treatment for Krokodil addiction is possible though success rates are low. Most users relapse or die from the side effects of the drug. The main priority in treatment for Krokodil is a rapid detoxification and the cleansing of the toxic chemicals from the user’s body.