Krokodil, the Cheap Heroin That Will Rot Your Skin and Fingers Off, Seen in St. Louis

Categories: Drugs

krokodil.jpg
America Journal of Medicine
This is what Krokodil use looks like.
The highly addictive, physically destructive and crazy cheap Russian designer drug Krokodil has reached St. Louis, say doctors at St. Mary's Health Center.

The heroin substitute is cheap and easy to make, which could draw addicts despite the guarantee that the deadly, flesh-eating drug kills users within a few years, wrote two St. Louis doctors in a recently corrected article in the American Journal of Medicine.

"[Krokodil] can turn an addict's skin dark, scaly and necrotic and cause it to wither away," say Dany Thekkemuriyi and Unnikrishnan Pillai, doctors at St. Mary's in Clayton. "Because of 'Krokodil's' ease of manufacture, low cost and potency, there is a good chance that it could become popular in the U.S."

zombie.jpg
Gene Page/AMC
This is what we think Krokodil looks like.
The two St. Louis doctors first saw the drug in a 30-year-old patient who'd started using Krokodil when his $300-a-day heroin addiction became too expensive. Within seven months, his body started to look like something from the Walking Dead: Blisters on his legs turned black, swelled painfully and started rotting away, and his left little finger turned black and fell off.

The name "krokodil" comes from the Russian word for crocodile, since long-term abusers' skin turns scaled and rugged after severe damage to blood vessels and tissues, according to the DEA.

See also: How to Make Meth The Shake and Bake Way

The drug is as easy to make as it is to die from. The root agent is despmorphine, a synthetic derivative of the addictive painkiller morphine. Combine that with paint thinner, gasoline, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorous (taken from the striking surface of matchboxes) to get a high that makes you look like a zombie.

doc.png
YouTube
St. Mary's Doctor Dany Thekkemuriyil.
Not only is Krokodil cheaper to get than heroin, it's faster and more addictive, too. It causes so much damage to blood vessels, muscles, bones and organs that most people die after two years of regular use.

Thekkemuriyi and Pillai's patient -- who left the hospital against medical advice after finding relief from his pain -- is the only Krokodil patient Daily RFT has heard of in St. Louis. No other major hospitals are reporting patients with skin and limbs rotted off by the flesh-eating drug.

A handful of patients have sought medical attention because of the drug, including patients in Phoenix, Houston and Joliet, Illinois, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, although the Drug Enforcement Administration hasn't confirmed any cases since 2004.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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41 comments
dylantinker
dylantinker

This isn't the first case, my friend already died from it in January.

tanianovak
tanianovak

This article was too vague.  I am not a addict or user but I do have teen daughters that I would like to warn just in case my (NEVER EVER DO DRUGS!) statement doesn't work for a moment in their life.  Is there a cure? What does it look like? Is that the street name? Other than "don't do drugs" what can I say to warn my girls about this?

Eddie Gregs
Eddie Gregs

Why does everybody always argue in these comments

Nick Muchitello
Nick Muchitello

I read this in the post this morning not worth sharing

Quinn Travis
Quinn Travis

So if you were to get lung cancer, which I had a front row seat to my uncle dieing a painful death of last year, would it be appropriate for others to post "thats what she gets", or "thats her own fault"....? Yes, its obvious that you choose to smoke, so if you were to get cancer (god forbid), you get what you deserve? The people who love these people dont care why they died, they just are heart broken they are gone. Tough love is pointless.

Kristy Lytle
Kristy Lytle

I never said I had no compassion... but I was impressionable at 12 just like everyone else. Was offered several times over... and I never bit. Alcohol, tobacco are no different. People know the risks and still do it and I am sorry but yes, at that level it is quite their fault. (I am a smoker, BTW). Once an addict wants to fight the addiction: it's a tough, tough road and they need encouragement and understanding... but there is no excuse regarding fault or choice.

Quinn Travis
Quinn Travis

Yeah brenda, interesting point:-) Im sure they dont drink and drive, or gamble, or have sex with too many people either......judge a person who gets AIDS, call them promiscuous, but you have had unprotected sex, and it could happen to you.....judging is wrong.

Rebel Lion
Rebel Lion

The role of a nurse, and other healthcare professionals, is to heal, to nurture, to treat the whole person...not to judge.

Quinn Travis
Quinn Travis

Youre right Amy. I tend to watch my words these days bcuz I have opened my mouth and had to come back and eat my words a time or two. I dont understand a addiction to drugs, because I havent had an issue with that, BUT that doesnt mean I cant have compassion or even sadness at someone who is so lost to something so dangerous. It attacks their mind and body. Thats a lot like a woman in an abusive relationship. I have judged those people too. How can a woman put up with that...well, im not in their shoes, so how do I know...

Byron Nichols
Byron Nichols

It's all a ploy to stop people from using heroin by the mainstream media. The likely hood of Krokodil becoming widespread here is very low seeing as you first off have to have a constant supply of codeine which is hard to come by in most aspects. Also for most people that do use heroin they usually buy it in a powder form. For the most part this stuff is combined with either red phosphorus or paint thinner which I would think would definitely be easy to differentiate whether or not its actual heroin. This shit has been all over the news lately but most of it has been propaganda. Don't forget people the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) made propaganda legal, meaning the media can publicize anything they want as truth without any facts to back it up. So don't just believe everything you hear.

Matt Healy
Matt Healy

There is no excuse to do heroin.

Amy Lynnette
Amy Lynnette

If you have never used or had a loved one that has been addicted then shut your fly trap,,you have no clue to the life they live or the ones around them live it's hell and it's almost next to impossible for them to get clean even tho they really want to,heroin takes you over the very first time you try it and doesn't let go

Quinn Travis
Quinn Travis

Kristy, I have never abused drugs, BUT I have a brother who is now 9 years clean and sober, BUT HE ALMOST DIED! he is a good person now, and he was a good person then, but was introduced to drugs at 12 yrs old when he was impressionable and young. The addiction ran its course and had him in its grips. Yes, it was his choice, but addiction OF ANY KIND is powerful, whether it be alcohol, drugs or other less suspecting things like sex, food, work, money, gambling. Surely you have known someone who did something a bit too much and it impacted their life in a negative way.......compassion doesnt mean we agree. It just makes us human beings who care about other human beings. Thats the whole point isnt it?...

Brenda Denton Langbein
Brenda Denton Langbein

In that same vein, there is a lot of information that drunk driving kills but yet....people still do it. No one shoots up with the intention of becoming an addict. Just this one time....that's all.

Brandon Herges
Brandon Herges

Couple that with Bath Salts and we might have to stop making fun of zombie preppers.

Kristy Lytle
Kristy Lytle

I don't agree with blaming all addicts... but in this day and age there is enough information out there that I can safely say choosing to try heroin or crack or coccaine or krokodil (sp)... whatever is stupid. It's one thing if you were forced - but that is rare to be truly 'forced' (like gun to your head, slipped, etc). If it was a choice to try it the first time.... then yeah you get what you ask for (and deserve).

Zac Miller
Zac Miller

I'm calling bs. The only reason that this is prominent in Russia is the over the counter availability of codeine pills. We don't have that there.

Eric Lowdownderty Shame
Eric Lowdownderty Shame

Youre not hearing much from hospitals bc addicts arent dumb enough to expose themselves...

Theirry Less
Theirry Less

Just more fearmongering propaganda if you ask me. Next they will say pot is the gateway for krokodil use. Lol! I say "good"- heroin is a dispicable drug. Users get what they get!!

Brenda Denton Langbein
Brenda Denton Langbein

Some people don't understand the power addiction has over a person. Until it happens to someone they care about.

Brenda Denton Langbein
Brenda Denton Langbein

Addiction is a strange kind of monster. I do have sympathy for those who are so in the grip they will do anything for that buzz.

Quinn Travis
Quinn Travis

Wow, I think the point is that their is something in our COMMUNITY that is hurting and eventually killing others, and I will ALWAYS be sympathetic to things that hurt people, whether self inflicted or not. It could happen to one of our kids, and then you would be singing a much different tune!

Tami Jolly-Bollinger
Tami Jolly-Bollinger

Atleast the herion addicts can't lie and say they are clean. Don't feel sorry for em either. Ya deserve what ya put in.

Tim Brown
Tim Brown

I haven't seen it, but if you're dumb enough to do Krokodil or whatever, you deserve what you get. No sympathy here.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@tanianovakIts not vague at all.  And if your trying to keep your kids from using drugs, show them the pictures.  If you do drugs this will happen.  Pretty sure thats all you need to say.

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