A new opiate-based street drug know as Krokodil (Desomorphine) has become the newest craze in Russia and now it appears has spread to the United States. This drug is an opiate (which is itself derived from codeine) much like heroin or prescription pain killers like Vicodin or Oxycontin, drugs which provide the user with powerful analgesic effects. Due to crackdowns of tradition opiate street drugs like heroin and illegal pharmaceuticals, Russia opiate users began synthesizing an opiate drug first discovered in 1932 known as Desomorphine, which is said to be ten times more powerful than morphine but with effects only lasting around 30 minutes. Harsh opiate withdrawal symptoms set in very quickly after use, causing he user to seek more of the drug and leading the user quickly into a dangerous addiction. Krokodil is relatively easy to produce using household chemicals such as codeine and iodine, which has lead some to compare it to the methamphetamine produced in homes in parts of the United States and South America.
Krokodil has come into notoriety within the last few years in Russia due to its horrific effects on its users. The fast onset and relatively short analgesic effect cause the user to become addicted quickly to this dangerous drug. The drug is often synthesized with household chemicals by users or drug “cooks” in dirty environments usually with impure ingredients. This extremely impure product is usually injected intravenously causing the injection site to become infected and often develop into an open wound or become gangrenous at the injection site. Krokodil also has the effect of drying and cracking the skin and giving it a scaly look and this is where to drug gets it name. Users often neglect their wounds and limb amputation often becomes necessary to prevent the spread of gangrene. In late 2013, Krokodil supplies were confiscated by Law Enforcement officers from users in Arizona. These sightings are the first reports of the drug being seen within the United States and no notable other sightings have occurred but hopefully these incidences are not signaling a new drug epidemic like methamphetamine has become over the last two decades.