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Is Krokodil More Addictive than Heroin or Meth?

Read on to learn more about what Krokodil is,what signs and symptoms to look out for, and what treatment options are available.

What is Krokodil?

Intake of Krokodil can easily result in substance use disorder. It's a heroin-like drug causing various harmful side effects. Another name for the substance is Desomorphine, and it's a highly addictive substance with analgesic and sedative effects. In most individuals experiencing effects of Krokodil intake, the skin around the region of infection turns scaly and green, like that of a crocodile.


In the worst cases, the substance may result in the rotting of flesh. As a heroin-like substance, it can be very addictive to individuals in the same way
heroin is, but it’s important to know the differences in what it does to the body. Read on to better understand what Krokodil is, what the side effects and composition of it are, and what the signs of addiction are.

Krokodil Production

Krokodil is a mix of dangerous or life-threatening substances when used in high volumes. The mixture is composed of codeine tablets or similar opioids combined with paint thinner, iodine, hydrochloric acid, gasoline, and red phosphorus. Due to Krokodil’s side effects, it is often more potent than morphine. It also gives individuals a similar high to that of heroin.

Production or manufacturing of the substance typically only takes forty-five minutes. Some people also add cigarette ash to balance the pH of the compound. In Russia, the intake of Krokodil is very prevalent, with as many as one hundred thousand individuals injecting the drug in 2011.1
Krokodil

What Are the Side Effects of Krokodil?

One of the most common feelings individuals develop after using Krokodil is a feeling of euphoria. Due to what the drug is composed of, taking too much of it may result in lethal side effects with consistent intake. People may develop scale-like skin, extreme skin ulcerations, and infections due to the substance.

Some individuals may experience localized soft tissue effects after intake. In rare cases, amputations may be necessary. The ulcerations occur at the injection site or remote parts of the body. People may also experience further damage to the central nervous system or other organs.2

Side Effects of Krokodil

There are many other side effects of Krokodil to be aware of aside from the ones listed above. Here is a comprehensive list of the drug’s side effects that may occur with consistent use:

  • Muscle deterioration
  • Bone damage
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Loss of limbs
  • Lower life expectancy
  • Overdose
  • Death

Signs of Krokodil Addiction

Due to Krokodil’s effects and high opioid potency, developing an addiction can easily occur. Regular intake or administration may cause binge patterns that extend for many days. People that self-administer the substance may experience memory loss, speech problems, and sleep deprivation as well. Below are the common signs of Krokodil addiction.

Green, Scaly Skin

Various reports prove that people often develop scaly green or black skin due to the drug’s effects. The green, scaly skin is similar to other conditions like ichthyosis vulgaris, chlorosis, resolving ecchymosis, and hyperbilirubinemia are other causes of green, scaly skin. It's imperative to speak to a licensed doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Rotting Skin

One of the major Krokodil drug effects is rotting and peeling flesh. In the worst cases, this can cause exposed muscle and bones, causing possible infections. People also often feel intense pain and significant levels of fever due to this side effect. Continuous rot may also cause Krokodil necrosis.

Gangrene

This condition describes the death of body tissues due to decreased blood flow and bacterial infection. In most cases, the effects of Krokodil are visible in an individual's arms, legs, fingers, and toes. Krokodil may also cause gangrene in body organs and muscles.

Ulcers on the Skin

Reports show that people tend to experience swelling and pain in the injected area, many times resulting in ulcers on the area. Where the tissue dies, large areas of ulceration become visible. Continuous ulceration eventually exposes the bone underneath the skin.3

Multiple Areas of Skin Infection

Injection of the substance causes damage to veins, resulting in localized infections. Due to various Krokodil effects, most of these infections can spread to other areas of the body and cause damage to organs as well.

Symptoms of Krokodil Addiction

Apart from the physical Krokodil drug effects, here are some other symptoms to note. These can affect users in many different ways and may be less severe for some than others.

  • Severe Anxiety: Constant administration of Krokodil can cause nervousness, severe panic, and restlessness due to the drug’s effects. Individuals who already feel anxiety before drug use, or for those that Krokodil increases symptoms, should stop usage to help manage anxiety.
  • Depression: Desomorphine triggers feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness in many users. Effects of Krokodil may cause people to give up social interaction and isolate themselves from others. Some significant symptoms of depression include irritability, problems sleeping, and loss of interest in work. Licensed doctors diagnose depression by physical examination and psychological evaluation.
  • Cravings to Use: When individuals experience Krokodil effects and addiction, they tend to crave more of the drug, and also have to take more of it to get the same desired effect. Since the substance works in the brain's reward center, increased cravings may be difficult to control.

Does Krokodil Cause Any Permanent Damage?

Krokodil effects can be noticeable both within and outside the body. For better comprehension of the Krokodil, here are the possible damages the substance use disorder may cause.

Neurological Damage

The drug Krokodil contains significant amounts of opioids, which are harmful to the body if taken in large doses over time. These substances create impairments in the frontal region of the brain, meaning individuals may experience problems with attention and memory.

External Bodily Damage

Skin infections and ulcerations are common effects of Krokodil. People may also observe dead patches on the body alongside scaly skin. Some of the skin damage and other external factors can be managed with the help of doctors, but a lot of it can be irreversible and result in long-term damage for the user.

Internal Bodily Damage

Injecting the mixture can cause serious damage to blood vessels, muscles, and bones. Internal bodily damage relates to toxic substances like phosphorus and iodine.4

What Are the Stages of Krokodil Withdrawal?

Here are the three significant stages of withdrawal:

  • Early Stage: During the early stages, individuals may develop nausea, vomiting, and other physical symptoms.
  • Peak Stage: Individuals may begin to experience increased cravings for the mixture at the peak stage. Other psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety may also occur.
  • Long-Term Stage: The long-term withdrawal stage can last for months and occurs after the peak phase. The Krokodil drug effects depend on the individual's intake level and may include agitation, nausea, drug cravings, increased depression, and prolonged anxiety.
Krokodil Drug Effects   

Treatment for Addiction at San Diego Detox

San Diego Detox provides help to individuals experiencing Krokodil drug effects. Here are some of the significant treatment options we offer.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

With MAT, licensed mental health experts recommend drugs combined with counseling and behavioral therapies in order to help manage Krokodil’s effects. Intake of MAT medications helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms or side effects causing a chemical imbalance in the body.

Therapies

Therapy options like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) help individuals identify causes of Krokodil use disorder and how to develop coping skills. Due to the psychological effects of the drug, rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) may be effective. REBT also helps a Krokodil substance user or individual experiencing a substance use disorder recognize and combat negative thoughts.

Detox

Krokodil detox occurs through the body's natural metabolic mechanisms. Note that the mixture is lipophilic, which means it significantly absorbs fat tissue, meaning it can store fat for long periods. The mixture slowly gets released into the bloodstream, prolonging the detox process. Hence, the actual length of detox may extend beyond one or two days.


Anyone detoxing from Desomorphine needs both psychiatric and medical support. For this reason, it's advisable to
detox in a treatment facility.

Learn More About San Diego Detox

Our team is standing by to discuss your situation and options. Your call is fully confidential, and no obligation is required.