Russia Plagued by Flesh-Rotting Heroin Alternative

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In Russia, a nation with more heroin users than any other in the world, addicts are finding a new, even more devastating way to get high.   The drug is desomorphine, a synthetic opiate, but users know it as krokodil, or “crocodile,” because the skin at the injection site turns scaly, grey and reptilian as the surrounding tissue dies.

Krokodil is derived from codeine (available over-the-counter in Russia) and freely available household products and it costs a fraction of what true heroin would cost.  Although the price in rubles may be low, the physical cost is tremendous.  Desomorphine is essentially poison and addicts soon find their skin dying and falling away leaving exposed bone.  Sores grow over their bodies or they develop abscesses where the needle misses a vein.

Already, 30,000 Russians die each year from heroin overdoses, according to The Independent, but now as many as 100,000 Russians are addicted to krokodil and other homemade drugs.  Desomorphine is highly addictive with terrible withdrawal symptoms lasting up to a month.

In the poorest parts of Russia where heroin is scarce, krokodil is gaining a strong foothold, due in large part tothe availability of codeine tablets over the counter in the Russian pharmacies.  Addicts create the desomorphine by “cooking,” a process that can take up to half-an-hour.  Unlike heroin, however, the high is of a shorter duration.  Addicts soon find themselves entrenched in a nearly unstoppable cycle of “cooking” and getting high.


3 thoughts on “Russia Plagued by Flesh-Rotting Heroin Alternative

  1. What makes krokodi all the more appealing is its delicious ability of disfiguring you around the point of injection and leaving you looking like a bloated monkey with gangrene. Not sure how you’ll explain that one or the at the office.

    But then again that’s the whole paradox of drugs- it feels so good but is so damn bad for you.

  2. It seems like you did the bare minimum of research on this. For one, it is not an ‘alternative’, it is a last resort of addicts who can’t afford heroin, something you haven’t mentioned. It isn’t some new craze because it is a new novel high, it’s the desperate act of someone fearing withdrawal/craving the same opiate high.

    Desomorphine isn’t a poison. Neither is heroin for that matter. Opiates are pretty harmless in terms of -physical- effects on the body. The process in which you get ‘krokodil’ involves industrial chemicals along with the desired drug which the kids in Russia don’t bother with removing so they just inject a horrible cocktail of poison into their body. THAT is why users’ bodies rot away. If you injected pure desomorphine, you would certainly be affected by the addicting properties of the drug (stated to be 4X that of heroin) but otherwise you would be in good health.

    Next time do some research instead of copy and pasting from other articles.