New drugs emerge every few years. Even when they originate in another country, they eventually end up in the United States. Such is the case with krokodil, a fairly new substance that essentially has devastating consequences. Knowing more about Krokodil and its potential side effects is often enough to make most people steer clear of the drug.

About Krokodil

Krokodil is a street name for the substance desomorphine, which is a codeine-derived opioid. This name comes from the Russian word for crocodile because of its effect on the skin. People in Siberia first started using it in 2002, and it quickly spread to Russia. By about 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it was present in the States.

As a homemade drug, people use several ingredients to make krokodil, starting with codeine. Additionally, they cook it with solvents such as alcohol, lighter fluid, gasoline, and paint thinner. They also use hydrochloric acid, iodine, and red phosphorus during the synthesis.

Because krokodil is an opioid, it’s highly addictive and dangerous. It has analgesic and sedative effects as well. The ingredients alone make it dangerous because they don’t always fully cook out during synthesis. In addition, krokodil is faster-acting and about eight to 10 times stronger than morphine. However, it’s three times as toxic.

Krokodil Effects and Health Hazards

People are more likely to inject krokodil than to take tablets to get high faster. However, the high fades in less than two hours. This short euphoria makes them repeat the process often to maintain the effects.

However, the repetition and frequency of use quickly lead to physical dependence. People can even die within two years of use because of the drug’s effects and hazards.

Rotting Flesh

This effect is the most terrifying. It begins to eat the flesh from the inside out almost immediately after injection. The substance even travels through the veins and begins to clot. It eats away at the blood vessels and skin wherever it lands.

Needless to say, krokodil leaves people with extreme skin infections and ulcerations. Gangrene can develop in these areas, making the skin appear scaly and green in color. Basically, their skin begins to resemble a crocodile’s.

Additionally, the eating away of flesh exposes people’s bones and muscle tissue. Many people die simply from skin loss, while others die from blood vessel damage, infections, and gangrene.


As a common infection that can develop with krokodil use, meningitis causes inflammation in the brain and spinal membranes. The swelling can trigger fever, headaches, and a stiff neck. Overall, bacteria enter the bloodstream from tissue exposure and cause meningitis.


In Krokodil users, bacteria can cause chronic bone infections or osteomyelitis. The germs infect the bone through the bloodstream, infected tissue, and open wounds. Osteomyelitis usually affects vertebrae in adults as well.

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