Just when you thought that you had heard the worst possible stories about drug addiction, Krokodil enters the stage. Krokodil is the street name for Desomorphine, a drug first patented and manufactured in the United States in 1932.
It was a derivative of morphine, but ten times more potent and works as a sedative and pain killer. Desomorphine is made from a mixture of codeine and thionyl chloride (a main component in battery acid) and made into a pharmaceutical grade drug.
However, the street version of Desomorphine, better known as Krokodil is made from over the counter codeine, iodine and red phosphorus and likely other very impure chemicals like gasoline, paint thinner and alcohol. These very dangerous and caustic chemicals cause horrible reactions to the body's tissues like deteriorating them for example. In some cases, gangrene and other infections have actually rotted away the flesh and muscle tissue to the point that bones and other tissue become openly exposed and vulnerable to further infection.
Krokodil is considered an opioid which basically means that it is a psychoactive chemical or simply put, it means that this drug has an effect on the central and peripheral nervous system. This is not to be confused with the term "opiate" which is used in connection with drugs that contain opium from the poppy plant such as heroin. Krokodil is not a heroin drug, but it does have some affects similar to heroin, like the highs experienced with heroin use. A Krokodil high is stronger, but it does not last as long, usually only about an hour and a half, whereas heroin may last up to eight hours.
The reason that Krokodil has become popular especially in Russia is the price of this fix is cheap compared to heroin. Users may have been told that they were buying a new cheaper heroin. In some cases, users do not even know that they were sold Krokodil until a great deal of tissue damage had already taken place. The life expectancy of Krokodil users has been predicted to be about two to three years after the start of use. It is common for limb amputations and other emergency surgeries to be needed by Krokodil drug users.
In recent weeks, reports about the use of Krokodil have made their way into the US, especially in Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma and Illinois. In these states, a few cases of men and women have been hospitalized due to the extreme tissue damage caused by this drug. One patient describes and compares the initial damage to a cigarette burn that turns purple and then forms a blister after a few days. Eventually, the tissue dies, turns black and begins to fall off, exposing bones. It's hard to imagine anything more horrible than this. Doctor's have been quoted as saying that it's like the patient is dying from the inside out.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is still saying at this point that they don't believe there is any reason for concern in this country about Krokodil. At present, it seems that their focus is on cross-border marijuana trafficking. With an annual budget numbering in the billions, many times the DEA has had to focus on drug seizures that bring the most monetarily since according to a paper published in 1998 by students at the Suffolk University Law School and the Boston University School of Law, law enforcement agencies are allowed to keep a large portion of confiscated drug assets from these drug seizures.
When it comes to saving human lives, why does it always have to be about the money?