Desomorphine, better known by its street name krokodil, comes from an opioid derivative of codeine. Just like other opioids, this drug gives a sedative and analgesic effect and can trigger drug addiction. That’s why people who grow a dependency on these drugs are prone to experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms and side effects that could impact their overall health and well-being.
When you ingest krokodil, you inject caustic agents into your veins, which could cause skin ulcerations, infections, and gangrene. The latter will give you a discolored black, grey, green, scale-like skin that resembles that of a crocodile; that’s why this substance got its nickname “krokodil.” Another thing you should note is that krokodil is also called “Russian Magic” because of its quick duration of euphoria or opioid intoxication.
What is the Crocodile Drug?
As mentioned previously, krokodil got its street name due to its effects on your skin when you ingest the substance. The person will start to have discolored, scale-like skin with black, green, and gray tones, which is very similar to a crocodile’s appearance.
Krokodil is known to contain desomorphine, which is a synthetic morphine analog synthesized during the 1930s. Because some can manufacture this substance illegally at home, it could contain other unknown ingredients.
Usually, this substance is abused by adding it to an intravenous (IV) route. Because of this easy ingestion, it is labeled a. Schedule I substance in the US. It is known to be a highly abused drug with no accepted medical use.
Another term krokodil is known for is chlorocodide, a codeine derivative in the synthetic path to desomorphine. As mentioned earlier, this can be produced at home, and “homemade” versions of the drug will have codeine. They will be cooked similarly to methamphetamine or meth. Some homemade syntheses added to the mix are organic solvents, like gasoline, lighter fluid, iodine, hydrochloric acid, paint thinner, and more.
How Long Does Krokodil Take Effect and Last?
Krokodil is used by ingesting the substance through an intravenous IV route. Within two to three minutes upon ingestion, you’ll start to feel its effect, making it ten to 15 times more potent than morphine and three times as toxic. After a quick onset, the euphoric effects can last up to two hours, but because the effects are relatively “quick,” users tend to use the drug repeatedly to get the same high.
Where is it From?
Krokodil was extremely popular in Russia. It was so popular that at least 100,000 people were injected with the drug back in 2011. The first reported krokodil drug was in Russia in 2003 and continued to spread throughout Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Georgia.
While the use of the drug is concentrated in the Soviet Region, other countries like Norway and Germany have reported cases of the krokodil drug as well. The reason it’s widespread is that krokodil is made from codeine and codeine-containing medications mixed with other home ingredients. Since heroin is difficult to obtain in some areas, people have turned to krokodil as an effective and affordable substitute.
For those looking for a euphoric high that isn’t as expensive as heroin, krokodil is a popular substitute that produces the same high as heroin and promises a potent sedative with pain-relieving effects.
Why is it the Crocodile Drug?
Many illegal substances produce different effects, and krokodil produces a unique side effect that helped pen its street name. Those who use krokodil have reported having had extreme skin ulcerations, scale-like skin, and infections. Some of the most severe and common skin complications have been known to be vein damage, soft tissue infections, gangrene, and necrosis.
The notable thing about these effects is that the soft tissue side effects usually occur quickly after ingestion. Because it can get extremely severe, there have been reports of amputations. Since these complications can happen on the injection site and could appear in other parts of the body, one can also experience damage in the organs and nervous system.
Some health hazards that have been reported concerning krokodil use include:
- Blood vessel damage;
- Gangrene and open ulcers;
- Skin and soft tissue infections;
- Limb amputations;
- Blood poisoning;
- Rotting gums and teeth;
- Bone infections;
- Blood-borne virus transmission;
- Memory loss and impaired concentration;
- Kidney and liver damage;
- Respiratory issues;
What are the Long-Term Side Effects?
Krokodil has been manufactured in Russia for more than a decade, and about a million Russians still use this today. While its street name is krokodil, in Russia, it is called “Cheornaya” and “Himiya” in Ukraine.
While the side effects that one can experience due to krokodil use are in itself already severe, constant use can lead to overdose and fatal consequences. While some will have to deal with amputations due to infections, others will deal with long-term respiratory issues and cognitive issues due to drug abuse.
When one withdraws from the crocodile drug, they can experience worse symptoms as compared to heroin. And as short as three weeks of use, one can already experience serious withdrawal symptoms as early as four hours since the last dose. Because of this, it’s no surprise that the drug can be highly addictive.
Trying to get sober after extreme use of krokodil can be extremely challenging. While heroin withdrawal symptoms can last up to a week, krokodil withdrawal symptoms can last more than a month.
Below are some of the withdrawal symptoms that are similar to heroin that one may experience:
- Chills and goosebumps;
- Stomach cramps;
- Intense flu-like symptoms;
- Muscle pain and twitching;
Since withdrawal symptoms can last longer, the patient must be provided medical assistance to ensure proper medical care throughout the process. Finding the right treatment finder based on their drug addiction can help ease their road to sobriety, allowing them to take the right steps to fully discontinue drug abuse.
With that, it pays to know the stages of krokodil withdrawals. Below are the three stages a person will go through:
- Early Stage: During this time, those dealing with krokodil drug abuse will experience flu-like symptoms, goosebumps, headaches, and fevers as they wean off the drug in the first few hours;
- Peak Stage: As time progresses, the withdrawal symptoms worse, and this could include major headaches, vomiting, stomach cramps, and intense craving for the drug. Sadly, the peak stage can last up to several weeks, that’s why they must have medical assistance along the way;
- Long-Term Stage: Long-term symptoms that one can experience is anxiety, muscle aches, and insomnia. Unfortunately, these effects can last from months to years.
Because the length of each stage is quite difficult, it’s important that those going through the withdrawal stage have a strong support system to keep them from relapsing. Choosing the right treatment finder will keep them on track and get the right support they need to help them on their road to sobriety.
When you learn about the crocodile drug and how it can affect individuals, you can get a better view of how you can help them on their road to sobriety. With this knowledge, you’ll get to select the best treatment and provide them with the support they need to recover.