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What You Need to Know About ‘Zombie Drug’ Krokodil

Krokodil (Crocodil) is a homemade version of a synthetic drug called desomorphine. As the name deso-morphine suggests, the chemical is in the opiate family and closely mimics the effects of heroin and morphine. Pure desomorphine is a very addictive substance with a high potential for abuse.

The opiate epidemic of the last decade has taken a devastating toll of Russia, where it is much easier to smuggle in narcotics from Middle Eastern poppy farms. Around 2002, it was discovered that you can concoct a cheap version of desomorphine from everyday products like cough medicine, paint thinner, light fluid and the phosphorus scraped off a match book – among other things. The resulting product is a drug called Krokodil which mimics the effects of heroin for a quarter of the price.

Krokodil’s Scary Side Effects

The problem is that Krokodil is a highly toxic substance that has horrifying side effects when used intravenously. The agents don’t dissolve completely into the circulatory system, but rather, they linger around the injection site to attack the surrounding flesh. This causes a blackish-green, scaly appearance of the skin. The skin may eventually become gangrenous and rot away.

Should You Worry About Krokodil?

Krokodil is a public health emergency in Russia; authorities say there are about 100,000 people addicted to the drug. But it is hard to accurately diagnose someone who also abuses heroin because of the similar symptoms.

In the U.S. there was a major health scare last year after an Arizona man was hospitalized. He was an opiate addict who had injected himself with a homemade batch of Krokodil. Although there were numerous reports of the new “flesh-eating” drug, the Daily Beast and Forbes confirmed that most of the so-called users did not test positive for desomorphine. Instead, it was likely a bad staph infection or use of unsanitary needles.

The reports of Krokodil in the U.S. may have been sensationalized. However the “zombie drug” is a serious public health issue with a far reach.

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