Krokodil: Flesh-Eating Drug and the Power of Addiction

Last year, it was bath salts. This year, the trending, scary new drug is krokodil (pronounced “crocodile”), a cheap heroin-like drug known to rot the body from the inside out and turn skin green and scaly on the surface.

Krokodil is the street version of the synthetic opioid desomorphine. Made from crude products like lighter fluid, crushed codeine tablets, acid and red phosphorous scraped from matchboxes, this toxic mixture ruptures blood vessels and causes tissue death around injection sites, rotting flesh to the bone.

A Cheap Fix

It’s stronger than heroin, cheaper than heroin and meth, and easy to manufacture. While the high is potent, it’s extremely short lived. Addicts must continuously inject themselves to maintain the high, leading to collapsed veins, injections that miss veins and dirty needles—all increasing the risk for gangrene and serious infection.

Even after skin grafts, amputations and intensive medical treatment, those who continue to use krokodil often die within two to three years.

“It is a horrific way to get sick. The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room.” —Dr. Abhin Singala, specialist in Chicago.

With such horrifying side effects, why do people use krokodil?

Addicts who cannot afford to sustain their heroin addiction turn to krokodil instead. A hit of krokodil only costs about $8 in the streets, while users pay $25 or $30 for heroin. Others are misinformed; several users say they bought the drug thinking it was heroin.

But the real reason goes deeper than cost and misinformation; it goes to the core of what addiction really is: a binding and deceivingly destructive disease.

The Power of Addiction

Once a person is addicted to a substance, sustaining the addiction becomes the most important thing in the addict’s life. Getting that next fix becomes an all-consuming passion, their sole focus in life and even the purpose for living.

This mindset leads the addict down a road of gradual self-destruction. While some break out of this destructive cycle on their own, most don’t. Without outside intervention, many addicts will not seek help on their own.

Whether this journey takes decades or just a couple years, in the end, it leads to the same destination—death.

Don’t Wait. Intervene.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, realize that you don’t have to wait until the situation gets out of hand. In fact, the more you wait, the more likely you will lose your loved one to addiction.

For those caught in the downward sprial of addiction, intervention works and recovery is possible.

There’s Always Hope

The journey of addiction and the path of recovery lead in opposite directions. One continually takes away happpiness, hope and life, while the other continually gives those very same things. Although certain consequences of substance abuse are irreversible, it is never too late for a person to turn their life around.

“I want people to know is that no matter where they are in their life, they can recover and get their life back. There’s always hope as long as you are breathing, and there’s hope that you can come in and have a new life.” —Amy, drug and alcohol counselor