Krokodil: Opiate Addiction in Russia

Just when you think you’ve heard and seen it all, and that addiction and alcoholism can’t possibly get any worse than they already are, something comes along and completely changes the game. In this case, that specific something is a new “drug” called Krokodil.

Before you search for Krokodil, we cannot stress enough that any search results that comes up will be beyond NSFW [Not Safe For Work]! Even if you think you’ve got a strong stomach and have seen some heavy stuff, nothing can really fully prepare you for what this does to your body. It is horribly graphic and disturbing in any context—not just in terms of alcoholism and addiction. This ranks right up there with crime scene, war, and medical nightmare photos. They are EXTREMELY gory!

So what is Krokodil? Desomorphine, aka Krokodil, is to heroine what crack is to cocaine, except with the physical damage of crystal meth and heroine, amplified a hundred-fold. Trust us, that is not an exaggeration. Krokodil is commonly used in Siberia and remote parts of Russia, where the population is extremely poor, and drug supplies are unreliable at best. These two factors mean that these addicts have to make their opiates last as long as possible.

Although desomorphine is not new, the methods used by addicts in Russia and other pockets of the world to make it are what make it so deadly.

Krokodil is made from codeine, red phosphorous, hydrochloric acid, paint thinner, iodine, and gasoline, and it literally eats away and dissolves your body. The chemicals dissolve the tissue around the injection site, leading to gangrene and necrosis [dying] of the flesh. This flesh starts off as scaly lesions similar to crocodile skin, hence the name Krokodil (the Russian word for crocodile). Eventually, though, the dead flesh gets infected, spreads, and rots, falling right off the bone…until the actual bones are clearly visible.

It is said that the life expectancy of those using this drug is around two to three years after first starting use.

For those who think alcoholism and addiction are noting but a lack of willpower, explain to us how injecting something this awful into your body is a choice. If something this deadly and horrifying to see—let alone to happen to oneself—is not proof enough that addiction is a disease, we want to know what would actually count as proof.

For those of us lucky enough to have put some time together, this new drug is a painfully sharp reminder of how truly blessed and fortunate we are.

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