Krokodile: The Zombie- Turner Drug

Drugs when used as prescribed can provide unlimited health benefits which otherwise could not be provided by other pain medications. But the drug which we are going to talk about has been misused to such an extent that it has created epidemic level havoc.

You read that right. We are talking about the krokodil drug, the street name of desomorphine which is the reason for more than 270 deaths every day in a year. 

Also known as the zombie turner drug, krokodil drug has been creating destruction for a long time now and slowly and steadily been spreading throughout the whole world. Let us know more about this krokodil drug then.

What is the krokodil drug?

The krokodil drug is the street name used for desomorphine which is an illicit and powerful opioid derivative of codeine. 

Cheaper than heroin and other opioids, krokodil drug has a higher sedative and analgesic effect as compared to other drugs. Also, it is extremely addictive, once someone indulges in krokodil, it becomes extremely difficult to refrain from it.

Can you imagine why desomorphine drugs are sold under the street name of krokodil? In Russia, krokodil means crocodile. When one injects these drugs into the veins, there is seen an appearance of extreme ulcerations, infections and formation of discoloured, scale-like skin that resembles the crocodile. Hence such a name. 

Krokodil is also known as the ‘Russian magic’ because of its high intensity but the short duration of opioid intoxication.

How is the krokodil drug made?

Krokodil was invented in Russia in the sometime around the early 2000s,  made by synthesizing desomorphine from codeine. The other additives that are mixed with the mixture are:

  1. Hydrochloric acid
  2. Paint thinner
  3. Iodine
  4. Gasoline
  5. Lighter fluid
  6. Red phosphorus

The dangerous additives are the reason for detrimental side effects in the body.

What effect does krokodil drug have on the body?

  • The krokodil drug is taken through the intravenous (IV) route in the form of injections.
  • The drug is very fast in action and it produces an immediate effect within the first two to three minutes of injection. It is 10 to 15 times more potent than morphine and twice as toxic.
  • Although the effects are immediate, the duration of the ecstasy is short-lived. It lasts less than two hours. Due to the short duration, people consume the drug repeatedly to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms which are quite similar to heroin. Immediate physical dependency on the krokodil drug is for the same reason.

How did the krokodil drug be brought into use?

As we already know, krokodil drug is an opioid derivative of codeine. Opioids are drugs that relieve pain. They work by attaching themselves to opioid receptors in the brain and prevent the pain signals.

The first usage is traced back to 1935 used for treatment for pain caused by trauma. It was reported that krokodil was more potent than morphine and produced the desired effect within a shorter period and also produced no side effect like nausea.

However, sooner it was found that it was more dangerous than actually producing any medical effect and therefore, it was banned from use. Krokodil is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in America because of its high potential of misuse.

The popularity of the Krokodil drug was because of the fact that it is much cheaper as compared to heroin or any other such related drugs. It produces stronger euphoric effects and can be easily made even at home.

Krokodile
courtesy: Time Magazine

Side effects of the krokodil drug

What makes the drug the most dangerous is the fact that once when injected into the body, it starts eating the user’s body from inside out. 

Desomorphine produces some detrimental and life-threatening consequences but according to studies, people do not stay long to report the long term damage of this life-endangering drug. Did you know,  people who consume the krokodil drug die within two years of consumption? 

The observed side effects are:

  • Skin necrosis

People develop significant swelling and pain in the places where the drug is injected. This eventually leads to skin discolouration and scaling. Gradually it causes large sores or ulcers to be formed on the skin due to damage caused to the tissues under the skin. The drug acts as a corrosive for the skin and immediate effects can be seen as soon it gets infected.

  • Muscle and cartilage damage 

As we know, the krokodil drug causes large ulcers to be formed on the skin. These ulcerated lesions aggravate into severe muscle and cartilage damage. The damaged skin continues to slough off and soon the damaged bone is exposed from underneath.

Gangrene which is a condition when the tissue dies due to infection or lack of blood flow is generally observed during the consumption of the krokodil drug.

  • Bone and blood vessel damage 

Krokodil damages the blood vessel that prevents the blood that body tissues need. It can also lead to inflammation of veins due to blood clot. 

Bone infections and bone death is also observed in other parts of the body apart from the infection site. Bacteria through the deep tissue wounds can enter into the body and cause infections in the body.

Apart from the above mentioned side effects, there are other potential hazards attached to the consumption of krokodil drugs like:

  1. Slow and shallow breathing
  2. Sleeplessness and exhaustion
  3. Brain damage and memory loss
  4. Speech problems
  5. Limb amputation
  6. Rotting gums or tooth loss
  7. Sepsis or poisoning of the blood
  8. Pneumonia or meningitis
  9. Kidney damage and kidney failure
  10. Bloodborne transmissible viral diseases.
  11. And ultimately death.

As we can see, the krokodil drug is an extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening drug. People just die within two years of its consumption and therefore the magnitude of the hazard can easily be gauzed from the statement.

Krokodil drug is extremely addictive as due to its short tenure of ecstasy, people tend to use it quite often within a short period of time and develop a physical dependency upon it. 

It is illegal and harmful to consume desomorphine and if you know someone who has been using krokodil or abusing drugs, immediate consultation with the doctors is needed. With the help of proper treatments and medications, the person will be able to get out of the addiction.

Remember, the process of getting out of krokodil addiction is long and strenuous. It causes people to suffer from withdrawal symptoms, similar to heroin withdrawal symptoms and it can be an extremely difficult phase for the person’s life. 

However, that being said, with the help of medically assisted detox programs and other prescribed medications, one can get out of the krokodil addiction. You now know about the dangers of the krokodil drug, use your knowledge and make the world a better place to live in.

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