Krokodil: New Age Addiction

April 1, 2024
Johann Kassim

What Is Krokodil (Desomorphine)?

Krokodil, also known as desomorphine, is a powerful synthetic opioid drug that is similar to morphine but is reported to be 8-10 times more potent. It is typically made by combining codeine with various other chemicals, including gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine, and red phosphorus, among others. The resulting drug is highly addictive and causes severe health consequences, including tissue damage, gangrene, and necrosis at the injection site, leading to a scaly, reptile-like appearance hence the name "krokodil" (Russian for "crocodile").

History And Chemistry Of Krokodil

Krokodil, also known as desomorphine, has a relatively short but tragic history. It originated in Russia in the early 2000s as a cheap substitute for heroin. The drug's name, "krokodil," is derived from the Russian word for crocodile, referring to the scale-like appearance of the skin at the injection site, which often becomes gangrenous and necrotic.

The chemistry of krokodil involves a crude synthesis process that typically starts with codeine, an opioid medication commonly found in over-the-counter cough syrups. Users or illicit manufacturers extract the codeine from these medications using various chemical processes. The extracted codeine is then chemically altered using a variety of substances, including but not limited to:

  • Red phosphorus (often sourced from matchbook strike plates)
  • Iodine
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Paint thinner
  • Gasoline
  • Various other household chemicals

These ingredients are combined and processed through multiple steps to synthesize desomorphine, the active compound in krokodil. However, due to the crude methods and impurities involved in its production, krokodil often contains a toxic mix of byproducts and contaminants, contributing to its devastating health effects.

Addiction Of Krokodil

Addiction to krokodil, a highly addictive and destructive opioid drug, presents significant challenges for individuals seeking treatment. Krokodil addiction is particularly perilous due to the drug's extreme potency, impurities, and the severe health consequences associated with its use.

The escalation of Krokodil addiction is not pretty. As addicts consume more and more of this toxic drug, bits of themselves will begin to fall off. For example, they will lose limbs, fingers, and other parts of their body due to acute gangrene. Hence, the drug also goes by another name: The Zombie, for it produces actual living zombies in the process of escalation.

Several factors contribute to the preference for "The Crocodile" or Krokodil addiction over other drugs, particularly heroin:

  • Ease of Production: Krokodil can be easily made using ingredients like codeine, paint thinner, and phosphorus from matchstick boxes. This process is inexpensive, allowing most addicts to sustain their addiction financially.
  • Legal Ingredients: Unlike heroin, marijuana, and cocaine, which are illegal substances, the ingredients used to make Krokodil are typically legal household items. This makes the production and acquisition of Krokodil less suspicious.
  • Geographical Considerations: In regions like Russia, where Krokodil addiction has become prevalent, the cold climate during the majority of the year can contribute to feelings of boredom and depression. The long Arctic winters lasting up to 8 months a year can exacerbate these feelings. When life has no purpose, the stinking thinking of addiction will reign high.

Side Effects Of Krokodil

Krokodil use has been linked to numerous deaths and serious health complications, and its production and distribution are illegal in most countries. Desomorphine, the active ingredient in krokodil, carries numerous severe and potentially life-threatening side effects due to its potent opioid properties and the impurities present in illicitly produced krokodil. Some of the common side effects associated with desomorphine use include:

  • damage to blood vessels (thrombophlebitis)
  • development of open ulcers and gangrene
  • infections of the skin and soft tissues
  • necessity for skin grafts and surgical procedures
  • amputation of limbs
  • occurrence of pneumonia
  • presence of blood poisoning (bacteremia)
  • onset of meningitis
  • deterioration of gums leading to tooth loss
  • transmission of blood-borne viruses (such as HIV and HCV through needle sharing)
  • infections of bones (osteomyelitis) and bone tissue death (osteonecrosis)
  • impairment of speech and motor skills
  • loss of memory and decreased concentration
  • damage to the liver and kidneys
  • risk of overdose
  • potent respiratory depression causing slowed or halted breathing
  • Death

Treatment Of Krokodil

Treatment is always available, regardless of how long addiction has been present. Addiction tends to worsen with time, as it is a chronic condition. This progression typically manifests as increased drug usage among addicts worldwide. For instance, if an addict currently consumes 1 gram of a substance, this amount is likely to escalate exponentially over time. But, treatment addresses the real problem behind addiction. It addresses the underlying problems, that range from the pain of relating with others and a traumatic past.

To tackle these underlying issues with side effects, individuals struggling with addiction must first distance themselves from the substance. At Solace Asia, we offer a pathway to recovery for you or your loved one. Do not allow addiction to deprive anyone of their right to a fulfilling life. If you seek further information on treatment options, please feel free to contact us. We are dedicated to providing assistance and support.

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