The drug krokodil has been creating death and destruction in Russia for more than ten years, but it was slow to appear in other countries. In 2011, the drug began being reported in Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Many people in Russia began migrating to krokodil abuse because the cost is about one-tenth the price of heroin. There are more than two million heroin addicts in Russia, so there were plenty of people interested in this new drug thought to just be a replacement for heroin. Once they began using this potent drug, they could not stop.
The chemical name of this drug is desomorphine. It got its nickname from the green, scaly skin of some addicts that made them look like crocodiles. By 2011, there were estimated to be between a few hundred thousand and a million people using krokodil in Russia.
Withdrawing from Krokodil is Grueling
The drug is made from codeine-containing headache pills and a list of toxic household and industrial chemicals. It is cooked at home by most addicts. The codeine pills are over-the-counter drugs in Russia which made it very easy for the habit to spread. Heroin provides a four-to-eight hours high, but krokodil lasts only about 90 minutes. Some people became full-time addicts, cooking the drug for a half-hour, injecting it and then starting the next batch so they could use it when the high from the prior batch began to wear off. In Russia, addicts live in groups so some can go get the drug while others cook.
If the user fails to get more pills, he (or she) will go into a grueling withdrawal that sets in rapidly once the dosage is missed. While a heroin withdrawal may last for a week, a krokodil withdrawal may last as long as a month. The usual opiate withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, extreme muscle cramping, depression, aches and overall sickness will be seen. One report also included seizures in the withdrawal symptoms. Rehab centers in Russia have supported some people going through krokodil withdrawal with heavy tranquilizers to knock them out until the pain eases.
American users report that they have been using this drug without knowing what it is. It was only the physical deterioration, the abscesses, and gangrene that finally revealed that krokodil had arrived in the US.
Krokodil was originally distributed as a dirty, light-orange colored liquid.
Getting through Withdrawal and Recovery
The Narconon network of drug rehab centers has a fifty-year history of helping people get clean from drugs and recover a sober life. The essential way to help a person abusing krokodil is to get them help as quickly as possible. This is not a time to wait for them to ask for help. The physical deterioration is too severe.
An addicted person may need medical help to stabilize them as their first step of recovery. The family of a krokodil addict should contact Narconon and find out how even people addicted to intensely addictive substances can recover.
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