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Krokodil Skin


The drug Krokodil is a semi-synthetic opioid also known as desomorphine.

Krokodil is a harmful and addictive drug used as an alternative to heroin, another kind of illicit opioid. Krokodil was first introduced in Russia and Eastern Europe, and reports of crocodile-like skin in users solidified the Russian term for crocodile (Krokodil) as its name. Today, as the opioid epidemic persists, this drug has made its way to the United States and has become a common alternative to heroin. Our Christian drug rehab is sharing more about “Krokodil skin” and why it happens.

What Does Krokodil Do?

Krokodil got its name from a step in the cooking process where codeine turns into a chemical called a-Chlorocodide and because of the greenish-black skin that it causes in users. Krokodil eats your skin because of the different chemicals it contains, such as over-the-counter drugs, codeine, and other harmful chemicals like paint thinner and iodine, as well as poor injecting practices. From gangrene to skin necrosis (skin death), Krokodil’s effects on the skin are severe and noticeable. Krokodil addicts who do not receive medically monitored detox or treatment are more likely to suffer from the long-term effects of Krokodil, including limb amputation. Faith in Recovery provides detox among a whole variety of addiction recovery sources that can assist in the recovery process from Krokodil addiction.

What are some street names for Krokodil?

Krokodil is known by several street names, including:

- Zombie drug

- Crocodile

- Russian magic

- Poor man's heroin

Why is Krokodil called a "Zombie Drug"?

Krokodil has earned the moniker "Zombie Drug" due to its severe and disturbing effects on individuals who use it. When discussing Krokodil, the media often highlights the horrifying physical consequences suffered by addicted users. These include the development of gangrene and dead patches of skin known as eschars. The skin at the injection sites can deteriorate to the point of turning black, grey, green, and becoming scabby, often flaking off in a manner that uncannily resembles the scaly skin of a reptile or crocodile. These ghastly visual transformations evoke associations with the undead, hence the drug's grim nickname.

What does Krokodil look like and how is it used?

Krokodil is a drug that typically comes in the form of a clear or colored liquid, similar to heroin. However, the color of krokodil can vary depending on the specific ingredients used in each batch, with yellow being a common hue. It is characterized by its acidic odor. The primary method of using krokodil is through intravenous injection, similar to how heroin is administered. While there are other potential ways to consume krokodil such as eating, smoking, or snorting, current research indicates that intravenous injection is the most common route of administration.


How is Krokodil manufactured?

"Krokodil, known for its corrosive effects on the skin and the greenish-black discoloration it causes, is a drug that derives its name from the chemical reaction where codeine transforms into a-Chlorocodide. This transformation occurs during a simple cooking process that users can complete in about 45 minutes using codeine and basic equipment. However, the dangers lie in the combination of various harmful substances like over-the-counter drugs, codeine, paint thinner, and iodine. These toxic ingredients, along with poor injecting practices, contribute to the destructive nature of Krokodil. It's important to note that the manufacturing process involves a mix of chemicals that can lead to severe consequences for users. The use of these substances in Krokodil production has raised concerns among researchers about the quality and safety of the drug being created through these 'bootleg' methods."<

Crocodile Drug Skin Effects

Using dirty or used needles to inject Krokodil increases the likelihood of contracting skin diseases and skin infections. Poor injection practices can also poison skin and cause collapsed veins. Additionally, the toxic chemicals used to make Krokodil also contribute to its horrible impact on the skin.

Some common Krokodil drug effects on the skin include:

  • Thrombophlebitis (blood vessel damage)
  • Open Ulcers
  • Gangrene
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Limb amputations
  • Meningitis
  • Blood poisoning (bacteremia)
  • Rotting gums
  • Tooth loss and decay
  • Bone infections such as osteomyelitis and osteonecrosis

The effects of “Krokodil the skin drug” aren’t limited to the skin. This drug, more potent and faster-acting than heroin, can also cause memory and or motor skills impairment, liver damage, kidney damage, and respiratory issues. As an opioid, desomorphine works to sedate the central nervous system, alleviating pain and activating dopamine. As a result, users often experience a sedative, calming, and pleasurable high. Despite the noticeable and life-threatening Krokodil skin damage that can occur, even with only a few uses, a person who’s psychologically and physically dependent on it will struggle to quit without help.

How long is the typical duration of krokodil rehab?

The typical duration of krokodil rehab varies depending on the individual's response to treatment and the severity of the addiction and symptoms presented. While the complex medical issues associated with krokodil use may necessitate a longer duration of rehab, once these issues stabilize, the rehabilitation process can typically last anywhere from a month to several months.

Where is Krokodil found and how is it made?

Krokodil, also known as desomorphine, is a synthetic opioid derivative that was first synthesized in the U.S. in the 1930s. While there is no accepted medical use for desomorphine in the U.S., it is used medically in Switzerland under the trade name Permonid. The misuse of krokodil started to appear internationally around 2002, and by 2010, its abuse had become widespread in Russia. Homemade versions of krokodil are often manufactured in illicit settings, especially in response to crackdowns on heroin use. The production of krokodil is dangerous due to the toxic ingredients involved, which can include codeine extracted from medications, a solvent, a base, and acid. The substances used in making krokodil, such as codeine, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, and iodine, are harmful and potentially explosive. The process of creating krokodil is relatively quick, taking less than an hour to produce, but the resulting substance can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of these toxic ingredients that are often not fully removed before it is consumed. While krokodil abuse is more common in Russia, its production is less prevalent in the United States due to regulations surrounding the availability and use of codeine, which is a controlled substance.


Our Christian drug rehab understands that recovery from addiction requires treatment options for both physical and psychological recovery. Many make the mistake of assuming that addiction is based on decisions, but it’s a disease in which long-term treatment and commitment are necessary for preventing relapse. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Krokodil or any other drug, call us now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our faith-based recovery programs for addiction.