Russia’s Flesh-Eating Drug Krokodil Has Arrived In The U.S. And Here’s Why That Should Scare You

When I say that this drug is flesh-eating, I mean that it rots your skin while you’re alive and this post contains photos of what that looks like. WARNING: very graphic images.

1. “Krokodil” is a street version of the drug desomorphine. It is a toxic mix of codeine, iodine, and red phosphorus that produces a high similar to that of heroin, but much shorter.

2. The heroin problem in Russia, combined with rampant poverty, has resulted in an unfortunate amount of drug users seeking cheap heroin alternatives.

STRINGER/RUSSIA / REUTERS

The person pictured above is injecting himself with heroin, not krokodil.

STRINGER/RUSSIA / REUTERS

The person pictured above is using heroin, not krokodil.

4. The krokodil sold in Russia’s slums isn’t pure desomorphine, but the toxic mix of codeine-based headache pills, iodine, gasoline, paint thinner, or alcohol.

STRINGER/RUSSIA / REUTERS

The woman above is being injected with heroin, not krokodil.

STRINGER/RUSSIA / REUTERS

The person pictured above is using heroin, not krokodil.

6. It’s called krokodil because it destroys skin tissue when injected, giving you scaly, green rotting sores and abscesses that resemble crocodile skin.

8. The drug raised its ugly head in the Siberian region of Russia around 2002 and quickly spread throughout the country.

10. According to the Banner Good Samaritan Poison & Drug Information Center, two cases of Krokodil abuse were discovered in Arizona this week.

12. According to CBS 5 Arizona, these are the first two cases reported in America.

14. Though the drug has run rampant across Russia, desomorphine is actually a drug that orginated in the U.S.

16. It was synthesized in America in the early 1930s as a hopefully less addictive alternative to morphine. We ended up making a more addictive alternative.

This is an effect of shooting Krokodil in the tweet below.

— Gypsy__ (@Gypsy Dee)

Please don't use Krokidil.

— Gypsy__ (@Gypsy Dee)

18. Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at Banner’s Poison Control Center, is worried about it spreading. “Where there is smoke there is fire, and we’re afraid there are going to be more and more cases,” he said.

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Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact this reporter at ryan@buzzfeed.com