Curse of the Krokodil

January 09

* Warning – imbedded videos are extremely graphic*

After writing this post, I seriously debated publishing it or scrapping it, it wasn’t until I was reminded that there are some very large communities of Russian immigrants out there, and those of us the serve those areas may have some type of exposure to the effects of this drug, that I decided to go ahead andĀ  hit publish.

A couple weeks ago as an after thought one of our instructors told us about a new drug sweeping through Russia called Krokodil.

I had never even heard of the drug before our instructor mentioned it, but it has received a lot of press. In fact, back in June, Time did a story about it – “The Curse of the Crocodile: Russia’s Deadly Designer DrugĀ  (,8599,2078355,00.html#ixzz1i39LyQmu)

It was mentioned by our instructor that the emergence of the drug is at least in part due to the US military’s involvement in Afghanistan cutting off the supply of the poppy used to make heroin – I suppose at least in part that could very well be at least part the cause, I suspect though it has more to do with the fact that it is about 3 times cheaper than heroin and very easy to make from ingredients that are available over the counter.

The main ingredient of this literally flesh eating drug is Codeine which is sold over the counter in Russia.

“The active component is codeine, a widely sold over-the-counter painkiller that is not toxic on its own. But to produce krokodil, whose medical name is desomorphine, addicts mix it with ingredients including gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorous, which they scrape from the striking pads on matchboxes. In 2010, between a few hundred thousand and a million people, according to various official estimates, were injecting the resulting substance into their veins in Russia, so far the only country in the world to see the drug grow into an epidemic.” Link

In much the same way as dealers in the US took an over the counter medication (pseudoephedrine) and turned it into methamphetamine, dealers in Russia are using an Codeine which is sold as an over the counter medication in Russia. The Russian government is now making Codeine available by prescription only, which in theory should help curb the steady rise of abuse.

The addicts typically experience their skin turning scaly and green before it literally falls off – in some cases as seen in the videos below – rotting every bit of flesh all the way down to the bone.


Take a look at the following videos from youtube – I apologize for not having the narration translated – but the videos speak for themselves

With Codeine being a prescription only medication here in the US it is unlikely that scenes like these will be seen on the streets here, but we should all be aware that these types of substances are out there.

Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Illicit drugs, Paramedic School

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