On The Krokodile Drug – Part 1

Roxana Ostafe

Written by Roxana Ostafe on July 4th 2011
Posted in: Science
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Krokodil is a drug from the same class where heroin is placed, but its effects are thousands of times more horrible

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to keep an eye open in order to prevent Americans from starting using the drug that has killed millions in Russia.

This new designer drug, called Krokodil (crocodile), is a cousin of morphine and it can be easily made out of codeine. The regular user of krokodil can live up to 2 or 3 years maximum, as the drug has incredible side effects: at first it turns the skin of the user green (as if it were the skin of a crocodile, hence the name) and it ultimately leads to the falling off of the skin, leaving the bones exposed. Up until now, large numbers of users of this new drug have been spotted only in Russia, where in only three months alone, officials have seized 65 million doses of the drug. The biggest problem in Russia right now it represented by the fact that the state does not provide money in order to put all drug addicts into rehab. However, there are groups of Pentecostals who run about 500 rehab centers all around Russia. Unfortunately, many of these krokodil drug users do not get to check into rehab, because they die so quickly. Given that the drug has almost the same effects as heroin and it is also really cheap and can be made at home (out of codeine (which is sold over the counter in Russia), mixed with such things as gasoline, paint thinner or red phosphorus, which can be scraped out from match boxes), most addicts turn to this drug.

Although the first account of the drug goes as far back as 2002, somewhere in Siberia, only in the past few years has Russia seen a spread throughout the country. Moreover, given that only in the last few months millions of doses were confiscated by officials, the DEA is trying to monitor the drug consumptions rates in the United States, in order to prevent the spread of this new designer drug. Still, the chances are really slim, taking into account the fact that codeine is a controlled drug and thus, krokodil would be too expensive to make, in order to turn into an epidemic. Moreover, in the United States there are other drugs that come at a substantially cheaper price and according to Dr. Lewis Nelson, a medical toxicologist at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York krokodil will not become a club drug. Still, Russia is having a very hard time trying to prevent people from turning to krokodil, especially because it can be procured with so much ease. “Over the past five years, sales of codeine-based tablets have grown by dozens of times,” said Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Drug Control Agency. Of course, this does not happen because, suddenly, everybody is having a head ache, but because this is the main thing out of which the drug can be cooked. Furthermore, this new drug is more powerful than heroin and that is why it causes the strongest levels of addiction and it is very hard to treat. While heroin withdrawal effects last for about 5 days, withdrawal from krokodil can last up to one month and it can be unbearable.11


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