Referred to as “The World’s Deadliest Drug” or “the Zombie Drug,” krokodil drug has become one of the worst drugs being abused. Krokodil is desomorphine, which is a synthetic opioid developed for its medical benefits because of its fast-acting effects as an analgesic and sedative and offered calming effects before and after surgical procedures. However, it is eight to 10 times more potent than morphine.
Marketed by Roche, a Swiss pharmaceutical company with the brand name Permonid, it was determined to be highly addictive – more addictive than morphine – and had a short shelf life, so it was abandoned as a commercial drug.
In the early 2000s, doctors in Russia started noticing some drug addicts had strange wounds, which involved flesh turning scaly and dark in patches, much like a crocodile’s hide. After Russia started a crackdown on the production of heroin, krokodil had returned, and was being produced in homes in the Russian Far East and Siberia.
What are the Effects of the Krokodil Drug?
Russian doctors reported that krokodil users have suffered extensive tissue damage, which often includes gangrene and damage to internal organs. Referred to as a “flesh, eating drug” the skin of those abusing the drug turns gray, green, and scaly. The drug’s acidity often will eat up the lower jaw of the user. Doctors report that amputations are common, and there is often a rotten flesh smell. While doctors are sometimes able to perform skin grafts and treatment, they don’t always save limbs or lives of krokodil users.
Those who abuse the drug intravenously are likely to suffer from a compromised immune system, which increases the chances of infections, blood borne diseases, and hepatitis C. There is the risk of HIV infection through contaminated needles, death by overdose, and severe withdrawals. The use of the drug in Russia has increased 23-fold since 2009, according to the Federal Drug Control Service head there. By 2010, anywhere from a few thousand to a million people were injecting krokodil. Use spread to other countries in Europe.
Is Krokodil In The United States?
Sometimes referred to as “the most horrible drug in the world,” krokodil drug has made its way to the U.S. and has reportedly been found in Utah, Arizona, and Illinois. After the U.S. cracked down on codeine sales in June 2012, it became more challenging to get the ingredients to make krokodil. But, those who knew how to make the drug found codeine on the black market, so it is still being produced at home. It is a cheap drug to manufacture and its high lasts about an hour-and-a-half longer than a heroin high. In 2014, the National Geographic Channel’s series about drugs indicated the drug had reached the southwest.
While experts are not sure how frequently the drug is being used in the U.S., reports indicate use of krokodil is increasing. Cheaper than heroin and made at home, like meth, it’s easy to create. Medical help is often sought too late and addicts end up with bone infections, mutilations, decayed facial bones, destroyed jaw structure, skull and forehead ulcers, liver and kidney damage, and rotting lips, ears, and noses. The sooner treatment is received, the better the odds of a successful recovery.
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