Addictive Potential: High
Emergency Room Visits Yearly: Unknown
Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Unknown
Mechanism of Action: Opioid Receptor Agonist – Increases Endorphin Levels
Desomorphine is a depressant that is also known as Krokodil and Permonid. It attracted attention in Russia in 2010 due to an increase in clandestine production, presumably due to its relatively simple synthesis from codeine. The drug is made from codeine, iodine and red phosphorus, in a process similar to the manufacture of methamphetamine from pseudoephedrine. Like methamphetamine, desomorphine made this way is often highly impure and is contaminated with various toxic and corrosive byproducts. The street name in Russia for homemade desomorphine is krokodil (Russian: крокодил, crocodile), reportedly due to the scale-like appearance of skin of its users and the derivation from chlorocodide. Due to difficulties in procuring heroin, combined with easy and cheap access to over-the-counter pharmacy products containing codeine in Russia, use of krokodil has increased. It has been estimated that around 100,000 people use krokodil in Russia and around 20,000 in Ukraine. As of 2013, there have also been numerous reports of the use if this drug in the United States.
The high associated with krokodil is akin to that of heroin, but lasts a much shorter period. While the effects of heroin can last four to eight hours, the effects of krokodil do not usually extend past one and a half hours.
Side Effects and Adverse Reactions:
- Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms
- Severe tissue damage
- Abscesses (Maximilian, 2012)
- Thrombophlebitis (Maximilian, 2012)
- Gangrene (Maximilian, 2012)
- Limb amputations in long-term users
In October 2013, five people were hospitalized in the Chicago suburb of Joliet, Illinois as a result of using a drug suspected to be Krokodil. The feds tested the patients, however, and found it to be a false alarm.
Many deaths have occurred in Russia as a result of people using Krokodil (Vice, 2012).