If you are preparing for the zombie apocalypse, you might not be crazy. A fairly new substance dubbed as the zombie apocalypse drug has arrived in the United States. An undesirable import from Russia, Krokodil (pronounced crocodile) is a cheap street drug that makes a user’s flesh rot and form green scaly sores, similar to a crocodile’s scales. Originally, the use of krokodil has only been documented in Russia, but cases have recently been reported in Arizona and Illinois.
In 1932 a drug called desomorphine was created as a replacement to morphine. It was then discovered that desomorphine is far more addictive than morphine, rendering desomorphine unusable. Krokodil is basically a homemade form of desomorphine, synthesized from codeine, which is a small tablet used to induce drowsiness.
Krokodil has received so much attention from the press because of its drastic effects on the body. “The drug ravages the flesh, exposing the bones, destroying internal organs and leaving users vulnerable to infection” (Los Angeles Times). Unsurprisingly people who use this drug do not live that long, 2 to 3 years at most if addiction persists, according to a 2011 Time investigation.
Krokodil is said to have similar effects as heroin, but unlike heroin it is cheap, and easy to make. Users of krokodil mix codeine tablets with other materials, including gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol. Users normally filter and boil the drug before injecting it, but contrary to belief, this process does not remove any of the impurities.
The drug destroys the skin due to the very toxic ingredients and abundance of impurities, such as bacteria and toxic chemicals from the paint thinner and alcohol. Almost immediately after the drug is injected, it causes damage to the blood vessels and tissue, which causes the scaly green rotting skin. Since krokodil is so easy to make, many people have access to it, and most of these people have no idea what they are doing. The high probability of the drug being impure leads to a greater chance of the skin and other organs becoming severely damaged.
Krokodil is highly addictive, so much so that not even rotting flesh will deter an addict from shooting up the drug. When someone begins to seriously use krokodil, it is basically a death sentence. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are preventative measures used to save an addict’s life, but even these extreme procedures rarely work. As Dr. Abin Singala (a doctor at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois), put it “If you want to kill yourself, this is the way to do it.”
You might not think that anyone would want to use this drug, but about one million Russians and several U.S. citizens have, despite the fact that the high only lasts an hour and a half, and the result is skin that looks like green ground beef.
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) originally did not investigate the Arizona cases due to lack of evidence that krokodil was involved. However, the recent cases in Joliet, Illinois have led to a DEA investigation. The DEA is trying to track down any information about krokodil in the Joliet area to determine who is manufacturing and trafficking the drug. The DEA is concerned because of the extreme toxicity of the drug and will do everything they can to prevent an increase in use. Krokodil has been monitored by the DEA since 2011 when it came to their attention that there was heavy usage of the drug in Russia. Since the DEA has been monitoring krokodil in Russia, they have expected it to arrive in the United States. Now they have to figure out how to contain the problem since it has arrived.
Dr. Abin Singala, claims to have already treated three patients for krokodil use. The three patients that were treated by Singala were local women under the age of 25, whose arms and legs were “significantly maimed from gangrene.” (Herald-News).
In Russia, krokodil is replacing many traditional opiates, especially in poorer areas. The fear is that the situation in Russia will be mirrored in the United States, and krokodil use will become an epidemic that will be impossible to control. Russian authorities are debating whether or not to ban codeine tablets and it is uncertain whether or not the United States will do the same.
If someone offers you krokodil, “no” would be the logical answer if you don’t want to end up in the hospital undergoing a skin graft. The price you have to pay for injecting krokodil is not worth it, no matter how great the high is.