Krok Kills. Krokodil is a cheap, addictive, designer drug available mainly in Russia (so far) that turns it’s user’s skin a scaly green color before rotting the flesh, causing the skin to emulate that of a crocodile, leaving bone and muscle tissue exposed to the world.
Just as crack is the broke addict’s cocaine, krokodil is a substitute for a much more expensive drug, heroin. The high associated with krokodil is like that of heroin, but like crack is to cocaine, lasts a much shorter period. While the affects of heroin use can last four to eight hours, krokodil users are lucky to get an hour and a half of bliss, with the symptoms of withdrawal setting in soon after. Krokodil takes roughly 30 minutes to an hour to prepare with over-the-counter ingredients in a kitchen. The chemical behind krokodil, desomorphine, was available as a morphine substitute shortly after laboratory synthesis in 1932. Desomorphine is 8-10 times more potent than morphine.
Codeine, a readily available narcotic obtainable without prescription in Russia, can be turned into desomorphine in a relatively easy series of chemical reactions, and then injected intravenously by the user. When performed in a lab, the transformation of codeine into desomorphine is a rather easy, three step synthesis. When cooked in a kitchen lab, however, krokodil users often lack for materials, and thus use gasoline as a solvent along with red phosphorous, iodine, and hydrochloric acid as reactants to synthesize desomorphine from codeine tablets. The final product is often an impure, orange-colored liquid, with this impurity causing skin irritation, a scale-like look, and eventual destruction of the skin. This is likely due to the presence of hydrochloric acid still in the final liquid solution prior to injection, with red phosphorous, obtained from the “striker” portion of matchboxes, playing a role in furthering sickening the user. Once the skin around the injection site is damaged, the area becomes a target for gangrene. This leads to skin decay around the injection site, and, in time, the skin sloughs off, often exposing the bone below.