U.S. Reports Of Krokodil
Rumors of Krokodil use and availability are quickly spreading throughout the U.S., prompting specialists to warn that the addictive and extremely dangerous substance has reached American soil.
Arizona poison control received what is suspected to be the first two cases of U.S. Krokodil use this past September. The Chicago Tribune has since reported on a handful of suspected Chicago-area cases.
The drug, also known as desomorphine, is an opiate in the same class as heroin, codeine and oxycodone. Krokodil has a shorter effect, faster onset and higher potency than morphine.
Krokodil Drug Facts
Opiate use influences the brain’s reward center. The longer the use history, the more that area of the brain is affected, Dr. Richard Friedman, director of the psychopharmacology clinic at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, told CBSNews.com.
“It’s more rewarding that any other naturally occurring thing”, Friedman elaborated.
Krokodil’s Growing Epidemic
Krokodil’s popularity has escalated, especially in Russia, where heroin addiction is viewed as a serious epidemic. Roughly 1,000,000 users are thought to be abusing the substance in Russia, according to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
Krokodil’s Toxic, Household Ingredients
Even more troubling is the fact that Krokodil ingredients are extremely easy to prepare, with ingredients including gasoline, codeine, paint thinner and other common household products. Codeine is a readily available over-the-counter drug throughout Russia. The remaining items can be easily obtained with little more than a trip to the corner store.
Dangerous Side Effects of Krokodil
The final product is not purified and often contains hazardous substances left behind from the preparation process, causing tissue damage to the flesh and veins and a high risk of gangrene. Krokodil received its name – Russian for crocodile – for the scaly, green spots addicts develop with extended use. The average lifespan of a Krokodil addict is generally 2-3 years following first use.
While the threat of rotting flesh may be enough to curb the appeal for most people, to addicts it’s a little more complicated. Though an addict may recognize their behavior as irrational and downright harmful, the ability to stop using is hindered by the affect of the drug on the brain’s reward center. That, and withdrawal.
“When people are using this it’s not so much about getting high anymore, it’s more about not going through withdrawals”, says addiction specialist Dr. Gerald Grosso.
Cost Of Krokodil
Studies suggest that some users turn to the substance once they’ve already cultivated an addiction to other opiates. Addicts may begin abusing prescription drugs, such as OxyContin, and move on to heroin once funds begin running low. Krokodil would serve as the next step, especially for users in financial turmoil. According to TIME magazine, a hit of heroin can run up to $30 – Krokodil is roughly $8.
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