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What is Krokodil and What is it Made Of

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Explore the Hazards of Krokodil with California Prime Recovery: Unveiling the Threats of a Synthetic Drug. Our blog is dedicated to increasing awareness about the devastating effects of Krokodil and providing support and guidance for individuals seeking recovery. Delve into the world of this highly addictive opioid, also known as “the flesh-eating drug,” and understand its impact on long-term users. In general, opioid abuse, including the misuse of synthetic opioids, has been a significant public health concern in various regions worldwide. Governments, healthcare agencies, and organizations have been working to track and address the impact of opioid abuse on individuals and communities. Stay informed and empowered in the realm of substance abuse with California Prime Recovery.

What is Krokodil?

Definition of Krokodil

Krokodil, notorious as a homemade, cost-effective alternative to heroin, is crafted from codeine, a readily accessible over-the-counter medication. Despite its affordability, the production process involves the use of an array of toxic and corrosive chemicals, presenting an alarming threat to both physical and mental well-being.

This synthetic drug, with the street name “the flesh-eating drug,” has gained notoriety due to its harrowing effects on long-term users. The term “Krokodil” is derived from the Russian word for crocodile, reflecting the scale-like greenish appearance it causes on the skin. This shocking physical manifestation serves as a visible testament to the severe toll this substance takes on the human body.

Origin and History

Krokodil first emerged in Russia in the early 2000s and quickly spread to other parts of the world. It was initially seen as a desperate alternative for heroin users who couldn’t afford or access the expensive drug. The homemade nature of Krokodil’s production allowed for easy and widespread distribution.

Spread of Krokodil Abuse

Over time, the abuse of Krokodil has reached epidemic proportions in some regions, causing severe health issues and even death for those ensnared in its grip.

Legal Status

Krokodil is an illegal and illicit drug with no recognized medical or pharmaceutical use. The production and use of Krokodil typically involve the illegal synthesis of desomorphine, a powerful opioid, using various toxic and corrosive chemicals. Due to the dangerous and harmful nature of Krokodil, it is not regulated or approved for any medical or therapeutic purposes.

Composition of Krokodil

Desomorphine: The Active Ingredient

Krokodil’s primary active ingredient is desomorphine, a synthetic opioid known for its potency and fast-acting nature. While desomorphine itself is used in some medical scenarios, the homemade production process of Krokodil results in a substance that is impure and tainted with dangerous byproducts.

Manufacturing Process

The “cooking” process of Krokodil involves mixing codeine with easily accessible chemicals such as gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorus. The resulting substance is injected into the bloodstream, leading to a rapid and intense high.

Dangerous Chemicals Used

The inclusion of toxic chemicals in Krokodil’s production causes extensive damage to the body, leading to the infamous gangrenous wounds and decay of the flesh.


Krokodil, like other opioids, primarily affects the central nervous system by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Desomorphine, the active ingredient in Krokodil, is a synthetic opioid derived from codeine. Here are some reported effects associated with opioid use, which may extend to Krokodil:

  1. Euphoria: Opioids, including Krokodil, can induce a sense of intense euphoria and pleasure. Users may experience a profound sense of well-being and relaxation.

  2. Pain Relief: Opioids are known for their analgesic properties, providing relief from pain. This effect is often a reason why individuals may initially misuse prescription opioids or turn to illicit substances like Krokodil.

  3. Sedation: Opioids can cause drowsiness and sedation. Users may feel lethargic, with slowed physical and mental functioning.

  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of opioid use, including the use of Krokodil.

  5. Itching: Opioids often cause intense itching, a side effect sometimes referred to as “opioid itch.”

Side Effects

Short-Term Side Effects of Krokodil:

  1. Intense Euphoria: Users may experience a powerful and short-lived euphoria, similar to other opioid drugs.

  2. Analgesia (Pain Relief): Krokodil, like other opioids, may induce a temporary numbing effect, providing short-term pain relief.

  3. Sedation: Users may experience a state of extreme sedation or drowsiness.

  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal distress, including nausea and vomiting, is common.

  5. Constricted Pupils: Opioids typically cause pupils to constrict (pinpoint pupils).

  6. Respiratory Depression: Krokodil can suppress respiratory function, leading to slowed or shallow breathing. This is a potentially life-threatening short-term effect.

  7. Itching and Skin Irritation: Users may experience intense itching, and skin at the injection site may become irritated.

  8. Psychological Effects: Users may also experience cognitive and emotional effects, such as confusion, hallucinations, or altered consciousness.

Long-Term Side Effects and Complications of Krokodil:

  1. Tissue Damage and Gangrene: One of the most severe long-term effects is the destruction of skin and soft tissues, leading to gangrene. This is often visible in the form of scaly, greenish lesions, giving Krokodil its notorious appearance.

  2. Infections: The unsanitary conditions of Krokodil production and injection increase the risk of severe infections, which can lead to systemic complications.

  3. Organ Damage: Prolonged use of Krokodil may cause damage to internal organs, including the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.

  4. Bone and Muscle Damage: Krokodil has been associated with bone and muscle damage, contributing to the overall deterioration of health.

  5. Addiction: Like other opioids, long-term use of Krokodil can lead to physical and psychological dependence, with users experiencing intense cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

  6. Psychiatric Effects: Users may develop mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairment.

  7. Shortened Lifespan: The combination of severe health complications, infections, and the highly toxic nature of the substances used in Krokodil production can significantly shorten the lifespan of individuals using this drug.

Recognizing Krokodil Abuse

Physical Signs and Symptoms

Here are potential signs of Krokodil abuse:

  1. Visible Skin Lesions: Krokodil is notorious for causing distinctive skin effects, including scaly, greenish lesions, ulcers, and tissue damage. These visible signs are often found at the injection sites.

  2. Open Sores and Wounds: Users may develop open sores and wounds, especially in areas where they inject the drug. These sores can become infected and may take on a necrotic appearance.

  3. Skin Infections: Due to the unsanitary conditions involved in Krokodil use, individuals may experience frequent and severe skin infections.

  4. Skin Discoloration: Users might exhibit skin discoloration, which can be attributed to the tissue damage caused by Krokodil.

  5. Needle Marks or Track Marks: Like other injectable drugs, Krokodil abuse may leave visible needle marks or tracks on the skin.

  6. Extreme Itching: Intense itching, often referred to as “Krokodil itch,” is a common side effect. Individuals may scratch or pick at their skin.

  7. Physical Deterioration: Users may display signs of overall physical deterioration, including weight loss, muscle atrophy, and a generally unhealthy appearance.

  8. Drowsiness or Sedation: Opioids, including Krokodil, can induce sedation, leading to periods of drowsiness or unresponsiveness.

  9. Behavioral Changes: Individuals abusing Krokodil may exhibit changes in behavior, such as increased secrecy, social withdrawal, and neglect of personal responsibilities.

  10. Drug Paraphernalia: The presence of drug paraphernalia associated with injecting substances, such as needles, syringes, and burnt spoons, may indicate intravenous drug use.

  11. Financial Issues: Individuals addicted to Krokodil may face financial difficulties due to the costs associated with acquiring the drug.

Dangers and Health Risks

Tissue Damage and Necrosis

One of the most horrifying effects of Krokodil is the severe tissue damage it causes at injection sites, leading to necrosis and rotting of the flesh.

Risk of Infections and Blood-borne Diseases

Krokodil users face a heightened risk of infections due to the unsterile environment in which the drug is produced and the use of shared needles.

Psychological Impact

Aside from physical harm, Krokodil abuse takes a severe toll on mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairments.

Treatment Options for Krokodil Addiction

Seeking Professional Help

Treating individuals who abuse Krokodil or other opioids involves a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. Due to the severe health consequences associated with Krokodil abuse, seeking professional help is crucial. Here are potential treatment options:

  1. Medical Detoxification:

    • In cases of severe opioid addiction, including Krokodil abuse, a medically supervised detoxification may be necessary. This involves managing withdrawal symptoms and ensuring the safety of the individual as their body adjusts to the absence of the drug.
  2. Inpatient Rehabilitation:

    • Inpatient or residential rehabilitation programs provide a structured and supportive environment for individuals recovering from substance abuse. These programs typically include a combination of medical, therapeutic, and counseling services.
  3. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):

    • MAT involves the use of medications, such as buprenorphine or methadone, to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone may also be used to prevent relapse.
  4. Behavioral Therapy:

    • Various forms of behavioral therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy, can be effective in addressing the psychological aspects of addiction. Therapy helps individuals identify and change patterns of thinking and behavior associated with substance use.
  5. Individual Counseling:

    • Individual counseling sessions with a trained therapist or counselor provide a personalized approach to address the underlying issues contributing to substance abuse.
  6. Group Therapy:

    • Group therapy sessions provide a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences, receive feedback, and learn from others facing similar challenges.
  7. Family Therapy:

    • Involving family members in the treatment process can help address family dynamics, improve communication, and provide a supportive network for the individual in recovery.
  8. Support Groups:

    • Participating in support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery, offers individuals the opportunity to connect with peers in recovery, share experiences, and receive ongoing support.
  9. Dual Diagnosis Treatment:

    • For individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders, dual diagnosis treatment addresses both substance abuse and mental health issues simultaneously.
  10. Aftercare and Relapse Prevention:

    • After completing formal treatment, individuals benefit from aftercare programs that provide ongoing support, counseling, and resources to help prevent relapse.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

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Supportive Environment

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Breaking Free from Krokodil Addiction

Personal Stories of Recovery

Throughout our journey, we have witnessed numerous inspiring stories of individuals who have successfully overcome Krokodil addiction.

Encouragement and Hope

To those battling addiction, we want to convey that there is hope and support available to embark on a healthier and happier life.

Krokodil is a dangerous and destructive drug that leaves a trail of devastation in its wake. The best defense against its allure is knowledge, awareness, and seeking professional help when needed. At California Prime Recovery, we are committed to providing the necessary support and resources to guide individuals toward a life free from addiction. Call us today 866-208-2390

Absolutely. Krokodil is an extremely harmful drug with devastating health effects.

Yes, with the right treatment and support, recovery from Krokodil addiction is possible.

Our holistic approach, personalized treatment plans, and caring environment make us stand out.

Withdrawal duration varies, but medical detoxification can help manage the process.

Yes, involving family members in the recovery journey can be beneficial and encouraging for the individual.

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