It begins to eat away at the user’s internal organs and skin. Leaving a user’s skin with a scaly-like appearance and open, weeping sores. Krokodil is so harmful, once someone starts using it, his or her life expectancy drops to two to three years.
Krokodil was created in the early 1900s as desomorphine and was designed to be a stronger painkiller than morphine. But it has a shorter duration and less of the dizzying side effects. The altered version of the painkiller made its way to the United States from Russia. Where it was created to be a cheaper alternative to heroin for both the seller and user. Use in Russia is estimated as high as 1 million.
Janet Backers of Arizona’s St.Luke’s Medical Center says the high produced by krokodil lasts a few hours before wearing off. The drug has a codeine base ingredient to synthesize the drug. This is because codeine tablets are available without a prescription in Russia. Krokodil is cooked by mixing in gasoline, red phosphorous or other additives. The additives used in concocting the drug are where the most damage lies.
Backers notes that krokodil has been around for a few years. But it isn’t talked about since cases at hospitals are reported or treated as a heroin overdose. Doctors are now starting to test for codeine to determine if a patient was on krokodi.