Krokodil is an extremely addictive injectable opioid (pronounced like “crocodile”). It is generally contains the active ingredient desomorphine as well as other opioid alkaloids and high concentrations of processing chemicals. This drug is so named in part because users often experience black or green scaly skin as a side effect.
Krokodil causes serious damage to the veins and soft tissue infections, rapidly followed by gangrene and necrosis, according to a study in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
An analysis in the study:
The injuries associated with krokodil injecting are excessive and may signify a health emergency in the making…Since krokodil is inexpensive and easily made, with decreasing availability of heroin or poppies in the local drug markets, more young people may be at risk of using this drug, potentially resulting in higher numbers of people vulnerable to the drug’s grave physical and mental injuries, but also to HIV and HCV transmission and other injecting related harms.
Soft tissue damage happens around the injection site. The drug can also clump in the veins as it fails to dissolve completely in the blood. The clumps travel to distant places in the body and start to damage tissue. Sometimes users of the drug experience severe mutilations, rotting gums, bone infections, decayed structure of the jaw and facial bones, sores and ulcers on the forehead and skull as well as rotting ears, noses and lips and liver and kidney problems.
“It’s a zombie drug — it literally kills you from the inside out,” said Dr. Abhin Singla, an internist and addiction specialist at Joliet’s Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Illinois, in an interview with CNN.
While there have not been any CDC confirmed krokodil abuses in the U.S., some of those affected by mysterious drug-related deaths are suspicious.
The constantly changing landscape of drugs often challenges official organizations and law enforcement.