Krokodil update: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published an “October 2013” pamphlet about Krokodil, also known as Crocodil or Desomorphine. Krokodil is “about ten times more potent than morphine” and it has hit the streets of the United States. According to an updated Krokodil National Monitor report on Oct. 13, 2013, the “flesh-eating street drug krokodil [is] showing up in the Midwest.”
Two weeks ago, the first cases of Krokodil were reported in Arizona.
The following week, cases of Krokodil showed up in Utah.
Last weekend, three women arrived in an emergency room in Illinois with “flesh rotting from the inside out” and two more men reported having used the flesh-eating drug Krokodil.
According to the DEA’s October 2013 pamphlet, Krokodil is the street name for desomorphine. Desomorphine is an opiod that was first patented in the United States in 1932. However, “there is no accepted medical use for desomorphine in the U.S., and it has been controlled in the U.S. since 1936.”
In Switzerland, desomorphine is being used medically under the brand name Permonid.
In middle and eastern Siberia, abuse of homemade desomorphine (Krokodil) was first reported in 2002, but it has since spread throughout Russia.
“As a cheaper alternative to heroin in drug abusers, desomorphine abuse was reported in 2009 to be increasing among Russian young adults. Desomorphine is illicitly synthesized from codeine by abusers. Desomorphine is generally abused intravenously.”
Desomorphine is easily made from codeine, iodine and red phosphorus and received its street name Krokodil because of the initial scale-like appearance on the skin.
“The skin, in long-term abusers of desormorphine, may present as greenish and scaly due to damaged blood vessels, thrombosis and damaged soft tissues surrounding the injection sites. The skin’s appearance is similar to a crocodile’s scaled and rugged.”
In contrast to heroin, the high associated with Krokodil lasts usually not longer than 90 minutes and withdrawal symptoms set in soon afterwards. Since it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare Krokodil in the kitchen with over-the-counter ingredients, there is very little purification of the homemade mix resulting in severe tissue damage, phlebitis and gangrene.
Doctors who have been treating Krokodil users describe the characteristic “smell of rotten flesh” since the flesh-eating drug rots the skin from the inside out.
Dr. Abhin Singla, who is the director of addiction services in Chicago, commented about the flesh-eating drug Krokodil that “if you want to kill yourself, (using) this is the way to do it.”