Krokodil in the States: fact or fiction?

Has the horrofic flesh-eating drug from Russia made its way into the United States?

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The three primary ingredients of the highly addictive opiate known as "krokodil"

Ever since former president Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs in the 1970s, illegal drugs have become a central topic of everyday discussion. In the 1970s, the United States faced an epidemic of heroin, which was mostly replaced by a crack cocaine epidemic by the 1980s. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the use of marijuana. Now, in 2013, a new drug named Krokodil may have hit the streets of North America.

Krokodil is the term for homemade desomorphine. Desomorphine is an opiate derived from morphine, which was invented in 1932 and was sold in Switzerland under the name of “Permonid”.  The drug, coming from the Russian term for “crocodile”, gets its name from its tendency to give the skin of its users a scaly green appearance, akin to that of crocodiles. The drug, which is made from codeine, iodine, and red phosphorus among other ingredients, takes about half an hour to cook in the kitchen. After it is cooked, it is then injected through the skin.

By far the most ghastly characteristic of the drug is that it often rots the skin of its user, even down to the bone. Nick Messer, crazed cook at Boudinot Larosa’s, says, “Dude, you may lose a leg.” In other words, according to Mr. Messer, why would you “inject your leg away”?That being a valid observation, why would people turn to the deadly, zombifying drug? Mr. Tierney gave a very insightful theory and said, “Some people are unhappy with the world and themselves so they use drugs as an escape. If you are a happy person, then why would you need to chemically alter your mind? Some people are so unhappy that they’d turn to such a drug to escape.”

Also, in addition to being easy to cook up, the drug is purported to give a better and faster high than other opiates such as heroin and morphine. Krokodil itself originated in Russia, where there are roughly one million heroin users, more than anywhere else in the world. Due to a crackdown on heroin in 2003, many people turned to creating desomorphine, a.k.a. krokodil. Thankfully, use of the toxic substance is confined to the vast expanse of Russia and Eastern Europe……Or so it we thought.

On October 18, 2013, CNN reported that five people believed to be desomorphine users were hospitalized in Joliet, Illinois. Similar cases have been reported in Arizona. In November of 2012, a man in Oklahoma died of what is now being blamed on krokodil use. Though not confirmed yet, the cases are suspected to be caused by krokodil.

If the drug has indeed made its way from the Urals and Siberia to the streets of the United States, it spells a nightmare for law enforcement and hospitals alike. However, Drug Enforcement Agency officials from the Chicago office claim that a test on a suspected krokodil sample came back negative. Even if that is the case, it is no assurance that the deadly opiate isn’t present in the States.

Whether krokodil is in the United States or not is up to debate. What cannot be disputed is that the drug is extremely toxic and deadly. All efforts must be done to eradicate it and stop its spread. Let’s hope we can do just that and prevent a man-made plague.