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Krokodil is often referred to as “the worst” drug on the streets. Its use has spread rapidly throughout Russia for the past ten years. It has now made its way into the U.S.’s drug culture. Research concerning Russian addicts states that people who regularly inject it can expect to live about two years following the onset of their addiction. In some areas of Russia, nearly half of all drug addicts are addicted to this drug.
Medically referred to as desomorphine, this drug is injected into veins to produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation similar to heroin. However, krokodil is four times cheaper and much easier to make than traditional heroin. The name means “crocodile” in Russian, aptly named because of greenish-black, scaly areas erupting on the skin.
To make it, addicts often such lethal and highly dangerous ingredients as;
- paint thinner
- hydrochloric acid
- red phosphorous
Cooked but not purified, injected krokodil contains numerous toxins that remain after it is heated. These are in addition to the already poisonous ingredients originally used to make it.
The high lasts about two hours and affects brain neurochemistry in the same manner that traditional opiates do. It releases huge amounts of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine into the brain.
Addiction occurs when the brain starts to crave the high. The excessive amounts of these neurotransmitters allow the drug to flood the brain.
- In 2011, foreign and domestic law enforcement seized nearly 70 million doses before they reached the street.
Heroin addiction rates in Russia are much higher than rates in the US. This is due to Russians having easy access to the raw material needed to make heroin i.e. the poppy plant and codeine. Sold as a nonprescription, over-the-counter medication in Russia, codeine is regularly used as pain reducer and cough suppressant.
The physical affects are worse than the psychological and cognitive effects. Users may inject it into their flesh instead of a vein. Because personal hygiene habits of all substance abusers are less than optimal, infection typically occurs at the site of these rough injections. This practice can develop of serious abscesses that eat away at the skin and underlying tissues.
Physicians caring for addicts who try to stop using say addiction to this drug is absolutely the most difficult addiction to cure. Health consequences of the drug may be permanent. They may involve speech impediments, shakiness, cognitive issues and a host of other physical and psychological problems. These could leave the person disabled for life. If you know someone who may be experimenting with krokodil or is even thinking of using krokodil as a cheap alternative to heroin, get help immediately to stop them.
Symptoms of withdrawal are incredibly more painful than symptoms of heroin withdrawal, which is the primary reason why users do not care if their flesh decays and turns gangrenous. Withdrawal can take a month or more and requires the use of strong tranquilizers to prevent users from passing out. This is due to severe stomach cramping, nausea, aching joints and migraines.