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Krokodil Drug

    What is krokodil?

    Krokodil drug is the street name for an opioid drug called desomorphine. It is a cheap heroin alternative that’s an opioid derivative of codeine, similar to morphine. Unfortunately, Krokodil also frequently contains other toxic substances like paint thinner and gasoline. [1]

    The misuse of opioids has reached epidemic proportions. Every day, 130 people die from an opioid overdose in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include opioids in all forms: original, synthetic, or mixed with other drugs. [2]

    Krokodil drug
    Krokodil drug is typically used by the intravenous route. This causes the veins and skin to become inflamed, diseased, gangrenous, discolored, and scale-like, very similar to the skin of a crocodile.

    So it sometimes goes by other names such as Alligator Drug, Krok, Russian Magic, Poor Man’s Heroin, and Zombie Drug. The drug was first reported in Russia around 2003 after heroin became hard to hold and prices surged. Krokodil drug became popular because it was easy to make from stuff found in hardware stores and pharmacies, not to mention it was also much cheaper than heroin. 

    When injected, krokodil causes the veins and skin to become inflamed, diseased, gangrenous, discolored, and scale-like, very similar to the skin of a crocodile. Due to the drug’s physical effects, it is sometimes referred to as “flesh-eating.” Additionally, the combination of solvents and opioids profoundly affects the brain, putting the user in a passive, zombie-like condition. Krokodil drug is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, which means it has a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical purpose.

    Effects Of Krokodil Drug

    Krokodil’s effects can be severe. Injection of the drug can cause:

    • Skin Infections
    • Soft-Tissue Infections
    • Thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins)
    • Skin Ulceration
    • Gangrene
    • Necrosis (death of living tissue)

    When the medication is injected, it has the potential to damage veins and causes localized infections. These infections have the potential to spread to other organs and cause harm. If an individual’s bodily parts, such as limbs, are severely contaminated, physicians may need to amputate or conduct surgery on them.

    Since krokodil is a homemade opioid, the circumstances under which it is produced may pose several possible health concerns. Users who manufacture the drug often share preparation equipment and injection syringes. Sharing needles promotes the spread of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people. 

    Due to the frequency with which krokodil is given throughout the day, this substantially increases the risk of hazardous, non-sterile needle usage. Even short-term use of krokodil may result in life-threatening health problems. Fatalities are anticipated after 2-3 years of the first dosage for persistent users, although even the initial dose may be deadly in some instances.

    Krokodil Drug: Why Is It Called A ‘Zombie Drug’?

    The media have dubbed Krokodil a “zombie drug.” Most media stories on drug usage depict addicted people with gangrene or eschars (dead patches of skin) on their bodies. The skin of krokodil injection users may turn dark, grey, or green, scabby, and flaky, mimicking the skin of a reptile or crocodile at the injection site.

    Numerous claims regarding the arrival of krokodil drugs in the United States have been made based on a limited number of suspected instances; nevertheless, as of 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has not verified any cases of krokodil drug usage in the nation.

    How Is Krokodil Drug Used?

    • Krokodil drug is typically used by the intravenous route.
    • The drug is fast-acting within 2 to 3 minutes and 10 to 15 times more potent than morphine and three times as toxic. When the toxic chemicals are removed, desomorphine is often left, a compound very similar to heroin.
    • After a rapid onset, the euphoric effects may last less than two hours. Due to the short duration of the “high,” many users find themselves quickly repeating drug use to avoid withdrawal symptoms that resemble heroin.
    • Due to the drug’s rapid onset but the short duration of action and frequent administration.

    Krokodil Drug Impacts in The Body And Brain

    Krokodil users will never experience the same thing during each use, significantly impacting physical and behavioral characteristics. Beyond the damaging skin issues, krokodil can cause permanent physical damage to other parts of the body.

    Since krokodil’s effects last for only a short period, it can lead to significant addiction in users. An individual dependent on krokodil may have intense mood swings, irritation, memory loss, speech trouble, and sleep deprivation. Additionally, krokodil can cause erratic and violent behavior during a user’s high, leading to other physical consequences. 

    Krokodil Drug
    An individual dependent on krokodil may have intense mood swings, irritation, memory loss, speech trouble, and sleep deprivation.

    Physical Symptoms Of Krokodil Drug Use

    • Muscle Aches
    • Faster or Irregular Heartbeat
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Blood Vessel Damage
    • Rotting Gums and Tooth Loss
    • HIV transmission from needles
    • Open Skin Ulcers
    • Bone Infections
    • Extreme respiratory depression (breathing difficulty)
    • Overdose and Death

    However, the physical side effects of krokodil drug impact clients differently and are more extreme for others. For example, some clients may not have total consciousness when using krokodil and may seize or pass out upon use. Others can potentially blackout or become unresponsive upon use.

    Why is Krokodil Drug so Addictive?

    Addiction is a clear risk associated with krokodil drug usage, owing to the drug’s strong opioid potency and short duration of action. Frequent administration may result in days-long binge behaviors. In addition, users are more likely to experience fatigue due to sleep deprivation, memory loss, and speaking difficulties. Variations in potency or “custom” formulations may raise the danger of overdose for users. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), repeated administration of desomorphine at short intervals to clients experiencing acute pain demonstrated that desomorphine had significant potential for addiction. [3]

    Krokodil Drug
    Frequent administration of Krokodil Drug may result in days-long binge behaviors. In addition, users are more likely to experience fatigue due to sleep deprivation.

    Krokodil Drug side effects

    The most recognized side effect of the krokodil drug is scaly green and black skin that develops shortly after injecting the drug. Based on reports, people don’t need to use the drug for long to experience permanent and serious tissue damage that extends as deep as the bone. Let’s take a closer look at the side effects responsible for the drug’s street name as well as its other side effects.

    Skin necrosis

    According to reports, people develop significant swelling and pain in the area where the drug is injected. This is followed by skin discoloration and scaling. Eventually, large areas of ulceration occur where the tissue dies. The damage is believed to be at least partly caused by the toxic effect of the additives used to make the drug, most of which are erosive to the skin. The drug is also not purified before injection. This may explain why the skin irritation happens almost immediately after injection. [4]

    Muscle and cartilage damage

    The ulcerated skin often progresses to severe muscle and cartilage damage. The skin continues to ulcerate, eventually sloughing off and exposing the bone underneath. Krokodil drug is 10 times more potent than morphine. Because of its pain-relieving effects, many people who use the drug ignore these side effects and put off treatment until extensive damage has been done, including gangrene. [5]

    Blood vessel damage

    Krokodil can damage the blood vessels that prevent the body’s tissues from getting the blood it needs. Blood vessel damage associated with the drug can cause gangrene. It can also lead to thrombophlebitis, which is inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot.

    Bone damage

    Bone infections (osteomyelitis) and bone death (osteonecrosis) in parts of the body separate from the injection site have also been reported. Bacteria are able to enter the bone through deep tissue wounds, causing infection. Bone death occurs when blood flow to the bone slows or is stopped. Amputation is sometimes needed to treat this type of damage.

    The use of krokodil drug has been associated with a number of other serious side effects and complications, including:

    • Pneumonia
    • Meningitis
    • Sepsis, also referred to as blood poisoning
    • Kidney failure
    • Liver damage
    • Brain damage
    • Drug overdose
    • Death

    Krokodil Drug Treatment

    Krokodil treatment can be complex unless you consult rehab providers and addiction counselors. Without proper behavioral and clinical intervention, it can be challenging to address physical withdrawals, side effects, and mental health issues related to krokodil use. If you believe you or a loved one needs krokodil treatment, then visit We Level Up whenever you can.

    Krokodil Drug Addiction is a chronic disease that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from Krokodil Drug Addiction with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

    Sources

    [1] We Level Up Treatment Center – Krokodil Drug Addiction (www.welevelup.com)

    [2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Understanding the Epidemic (www.cdc.gov)

    [3] U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (www.dea.gov)

    [4] Haskin, A., Kim, N., & Aguh, C. (2016). A new drug with a nasty bite: A case of krokodil-induced skin necrosis in an intravenous drug user. JAAD case reports, 2(2), 174–176. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4864092/)

    [5] Haskin, A., Kim, N., & Aguh, C. (2016). A new drug with a nasty bite: A case of krokodil-induced skin necrosis in an intravenous drug user. JAAD case reports, 2(2), 174–176. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4864092/)