What is known as the crocodile drug (desomorphine) is a derivative of the opiate codeine that is commonly injected. On the black market, the drug is also widely referred to as Krokodil. It is a substance that first appeared around the beginning of the century in Siberia and has since spread into other regions of Russia since then.
It is believed that the name “Crocodile” or “Krokodil” manifested in reference to changes in the appearance of a user’s skin induced by regular use. Desomorphine is a corrosive substance that can cause an addict’s skin to become green, bumpy, and scaly, like a crocodile. Infected sores are likely to form if the user misses a vein and administers the drug into the flesh.
It is also common for addicts to develop gangrene that may become severe enough to warrant an amputation. The flesh on certain body parts may become necrotic and rot off or altogether, exposing bone.
Desomorphine is categorized as a Schedule I substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), indicating that it is considered to have an extremely high potential for abuse and no recognized medical purpose. In its purest form, desomorphine can be up to ten times more potent than morphine and also has a more rapid onset of effects.
An Inexpensive Heroin Alternative
Reports have suggested that crocodile drug use has spread rapidly across certain parts of Russia, with possibly hundreds of thousands of individuals having abused the substance in recent years. The drug has also infiltrated nearby countries such as the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Although use appears mostly centered in post-Soviet regions, countries like Germany and Norway have also reported desomorphine use. Most recently, some incidents were found as far away as Australia.
Desomorphine is derived from codeine. In illicit drug markets such as those in Russia, where it can be challenging to locate heroin, some have turned to the use of this drug as an alternative. In addition, it has frequently been utilized as a substitute for heroin because of its low cost and increasing accessibility.
In general, the crocodile drug may appeal to those seeking an intense heroin-like high that is easily obtainable and affordable. Effects can last for two hours and include euphoria, pain relief, and sedation.
Users have reported that desomorphine can be created in around 45 minutes using codeine and minimum equipment. Like homemade do-it-yourself methamphetamine, manufacturers often include several toxic ingredients in the crocodile drug, such as gasoline, hydrochloric acid, and common household cleaning products.
Effects of the Crocodile Drug
Crocodile’s effects tend to be disastrous and life-threatening. Injection of this substance has been associated with several complications, including the following:
- Skin/soft tissue infections
- Skin ulcers
When desomorphine is administered intravenously, it can cause severe injury to veins and lead to localized infections, eventually spreading to other areas of the body and leading to organ damage. If some body parts, such as the arms and legs, are severely infected, doctors may need to perform extensive surgery that may include amputation.
Also, because crocodile is a substance with a short half-life often used in a binge-like fashion throughout the day, this can significantly increase the chances of non-sterile syringes being used. Also, short-term use of this drug can cause severe health consequences and fatality. Death for long-term users is common within just 2-3 years of first use, but even one dose can be lethal in some cases.
Is the Crocodile Drug in the United States?
A few sensational reports regarding desomorphine’s possible appearance in the U.S. are mainly based on a small number of suspected instances. Fortunately, at the time of this writing, neither the DEA nor the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) had confirmed any cases of crocodile drug use in the country or considered the drug a current and significant threat.
Getting Professional Treatment for Opioid Addiction
In the United States, the most severe opioid addictions are often related to heroin or fentanyl. Like crocodile, these drugs devastate lives and can cause severe, life-threatening health complications, as well as social withdrawal and financial and legal problems.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers intensive treatment for opioid addiction comprised of evidence-based services beneficial for the recovery process, including behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, psychoeducation, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and more.