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Flesh-eating drug 'krokodil' has made its way to the U.S.

posted Oct 10, 2013, 5:13 PM by Victor   [ updated Nov 16, 2013, 8:17 AM ]
Desomorphine a.k.a. krokodil
October 10, 2013

The opioid drug desomorphine, also know as 'krokodil' (Russian for crocodile) after the scaly skin it can cause in its users, has reportedly made its way to the United States. The homemade drug krokodil first attracted attention in Russia back in 2010 when there was an increase in production, though reports of its use date back to 2003. Desomorphine is easily produced using codeine, an opiate painkiller that is available over-the-counter in many Western countries, as well as iodine and red phosphorus. When manufactured this way, the resulting desomorphine is filled with impurities and toxic byproducts. This is what makes the drug so dangerous and also the cause of the flesh-eating effect it can have in intravenous users of the drug.

The effects of krokodil are similar to that of heroin (diacetylmorphine), though the duration of the effects are much shorter. Krokodil's similarity to heroin combined with the wide availability of cheap, over-the-counter products containing codeine in Russia are the reasons for the huge increase in use of the drug among Russians. But it was only this September that reports of the drug in places like Arizona and Illinois started to surface. This article on Fox News today (Oct. 10, 2013) reports that krokodil has made it's way into a Chicago suburb, where a hit of the drug is available for one third of the price of a hit of heroin. (UPDATE 10/12/2013: Health officials are skeptical of claims of krokodil in the U.S. and the DEA has not received any confirmed samples of krokodil)

Below I have included a report aired by ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) in 2011 examining the rising use of krokodil among Russian injection drug users. There are a few images in the report that some individuals may find disturbing. Due to the crude, home-made production methods used to make krokodil and the chemicals involved, it is an especially dangerous drug to inject intravenously, and it is notorious for producing severe tissue damage, including gangrene, and which can sometimes result in limb amputation in long-term users. Speaking on krokodil's rapid increase in popularity in Russia, Colonel Evgeniy Beryozkin sums it up nicely in the video:

"It's a cheap drug with pretty much the same effect as heroin, but at a much lower price. That's why krokodil is becoming more and more popular."

If you are interested in reading more about desomorphine, a.k.a. krokodil, check out the links posted below the video.



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