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Krokodil (krok, crocodile) is cruddy homemade desomorphine, an opioid drug, used (mainly in Russia and some Russian expat communities) as a cheap and very nasty alternative to heroin. Its effects are similar to heroin, though much more damaging because of the impurities present from the sloppy synthesis.
 How it is made
Krokodil is made by reduction of codeine (methylmorphine), which is easily available over-the-counter in Russia. The codeine is reduced using iodine and red phosphorus, with the red phosphorus reducing elemental iodine to hydrogen iodide which with red phosphorus is an excellent reducing agent. The use of iodine and red phosphorus to reduce the codeine is also used to make methamphetamine from pseudoephedrine which is known as a "red, white, and blue" cook.
This method of reducing codeine creates all kinds of nasty shit that isn't desomorphine. A cleaner, and traditional synthesis, is the chlorination of codeine with thionyl chloride followed by catalytic reduction and a demethylation. When done right, it's the best thing ever... Until you die.
 Krokodil != desomorphine
Because of the crap synthesis, the large part of Krokodil is mainly toxic by-products, phosphorus, pill binders, unreacted codeine, methyldesorphine, some codeine analogues and a small amount of actual desomorphine. Pure desomorphine is about eight times as potent as morphine and about three times as potent as heroin. The large amount of problems such as gangrene seen with Krokodil is the result of many junkies lacking the skill to purify and refine a drug and hence shoot up all the leftovers from their cook.
The phosphorus is of particular concern since phosphorus is known to cause necrotic diseases such as Phossy Jaw, which is a necrosis of the jaw. Although Phossy Jaw is usually seen with white phosphorus, it can be safely assumed that intravenous phosphorus is not exactly a healthy idea.
 Deleterious effects of Krokodil
Used intravenously, Krokodil has a deleterious effect on soft tissues like skin, causing open sores and gangrene. The drug's name is believed to have come from the scaly crocodile-like appearance of skin around the injection site. With prolonged use, and no medical attention, limbs frequently rot, and have to be amputated. The strong analgesic effect of Krokodil keeps addicts from noticing this while high. Users of Krokodil are highly likely to die as the result of their use and the few addicts who make it into rehab face around a month of severe withdrawal symptoms, and may be left with permanent brain damage.
 Krokodil usage
Estimates of Krokodil usage vary widely, but it is perceived as a growing epidemic within Russia. The government have been slow to respond to the problem, and to calls for greater rehab provision and restrictions on the sale of codeine. Critics suggest that the stalling could be due to lobbying by pharmaceutical corporations who profit from the prescription-free sale of opiates.
Krokodil has since spread to former Soviet Socialist Republics, then to Germany, Poland, and other European countries with Russian populations. It is now in the United States as of February 2014.
 See also
- ↑ Savchuk, S. A.; Barsegyan, S. S.; Barsegyan, I. B.; Kolesov, G. M. (2011). "Chromatographic study of expert and biological samples containing desomorphine". Journal of Analytical Chemistry 63 (4): 361–70. Template:Citation error.
- ↑ Zosia Chustecka (2005). "Bisphosphonates and jaw osteonecrosis". Medscape. http://medgenmed.medscape.com/viewarticle/538223_print.
- ↑ The following blog contains some disturbingly graphic and NSFW images of severe Krokodil cases: Flesh-Rotting, Cheap Heroin Alternative Is Hot in Russia
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "The Curse of the Crocodile: Russia's Deadly Designer Drug", Simon Shuster, Time, June 20, 2011.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Thousands dying in Krokodil's torturous grip", Shaun Walker, Independent, June 22, 2011.
- ↑ Skowronek, R.; Celiński, R.; Chowaniec, C. A. (2012). ""Crocodile" – new dangerous designer drug of abuse from the East". Clinical Toxicology 50 (4): 269. PMID 22385107
- ↑ "Deutschland kämpft gegen neue todesdroge [Germany fights new death-drug]" (in German). Bild. October 14, 2011. http://www.bild.de/news/inland/ueberdosis/deutschland-kaempft-gegen-neue-todesdroge-20456878.bild.html. Retrieved 2011-11-10.