New reports suggest drug users in America have begun using a
notorious, flesh-destroying drug that originated in Russia.
In an interview with Arizona’s KLTV, Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at Banner’s Poison Control Center, said the U.S. now had its first two recorded cases of the use of Desomorphine, also known as “krokodil.”
The drug is made using readily available codeine, mixed with other ingredients such gasoline, paint thinner, iodine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorous. It is often used as a substitute for heroin, as it has roughly similar effects but is three times cheaper than the opiate, and it is far easier to obtain — Shelly Mowrey, a substance abuse and prevention expert, told ABC 15 that it can take just 30 minutes to cook.
However, the drug is believed to be even more dangerous than heroin and has disturbing side effects. The drug’s nickname — a transliteration of the Russian word for “crocodile” — comes from one side effect users experience: green, scaly skin at the site of injection. Gangrene and amputations are common, while fleshy tissue is eaten away by the acidic chemicals.
The prospects for users are exceptionally dire. “Desomorphine kills all of its victims and it kills them very quickly,” one doctor told Pravda.ru. “A heroin addict may live up to six or seven years. The life of a desomorphine addict is much shorter — two years maximum. Some may take it for five years, but many people die after taking their first dose of this drug.”
These side effects and the low survival rate of users have given the drug a notorious reputation. Disturbing images of krokadil users can be found on numerous sites online (here’s one, but be warned the images are extremely graphic).
According to an article from Time Magazine, the drug appears to have originated from Siberia and Russia’s Far East in 2002. By 2011 it was estimated that 100,000 people were addicted in Russia, The drug was believed to have spread into Europe in the past few years, but these appear to be the first reported cases of the drug in the United States.
LoVecchio would not elaborate to KLTV about the two cases, other than saying that they appeared to be linked. “Where there is smoke there is fire,” he added, “and we’re afraid there are going to be more and more cases.”