If you’ve never encountered the drug called krokodil, consider yourself fortunate. This dangerous substance has the ability to cause grievous harm to anyone who uses it – and in recent years, reports of its presence in cities throughout the United States have become increasingly common.
What is the Drug Called Krokodil?
Krokodil (which is the Russian word for “crocodile”) is the street name for a substance called desomorphine, which is a semi-synthetic opioid. Desomorphine was first synthesized in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 2000s that public health experts noted rising rates of krokodil abuse. The problem began in Russia, then spread to several European nations before finally arriving in the United States.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), krokodil can be as much as 10 times more powerful than morphine. The DEA has classified desomorphine as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that, in the opinion of the U.S. government, krokodil has no current legitimate medical use, but a high potential for abuse.
What Does it Look Like?
Krokodil looks like heroin. It can appear as a white or brown powder. When this powder is heated prior to being injected, it transforms into a clear or yellowish liquid.
Effects of the Drug Called Krokodil
The initial effects of krokodil are similar to what occurs when a person abuses heroin, morphine, or other opioids:
- Sedation and relaxation
- Euphoric rush
- Slowed heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- Impaired coordination
- Alleviation of pain
People who abuse krokodil typically do so by injecting the drug. Illicitly manufactured desomorphine can contain several dangerous additives, including paint thinner, gasoline, and hydrochloric acid. These substances can put people at risk for a wide range of adverse physical effects, such as:
- Skin discoloration near the injection site
- Lesions, ulcerations, and infections
- Gangrene and necrosis (tissue death)
- Blood poisoning
- Thrombosis (blood clots)
- Muscle damage
- Harm to the liver and kidneys
Can Krokodil Wounds Be Treated?
If a person quickly gets appropriate medical treatment, they may be able to use antibiotic therapy to treat krokodil wounds. Unfortunately, the tissue damage caused by krokodil can quickly become so severe that debridement (the removal of damaged tissue) or skin grafts may be required.
In some cases, amputation is necessary to stop the spread of krokodil-related infections.
Krokodil vs. Tranq: What are the Similarities and Differences?
In recent years, krokodil has been joined in the headlines by another powerful street drug with the potential to cause horrific damage. The official name of this second substance is xylazine, but it is commonly referred to as tranq or tranq dope.
Here’s a quick look at some of the similarities and differences between krokodil vs. tranq:
- Like krokodil, tranq can cause extreme relaxation, sedation, slowed breathing, and an easing of pain.
- Both krokodil and tranq abuse have been linked with infections, abscesses, and other serious skin damage, including tissue death (necrosis).
- Unlike krokodil, tranq is not an opioid. It is typically categorized as a sedative or a tranquilizer (which is where the street name “tranq” comes from).
- Since krokodil is an opioid, overdoses can be reversed if the person receives naloxone in a timely manner. Though tranq’s effects are similar to those of opioids, someone who overdoses on that drug cannot be saved with naloxone.
- Tranq is often mixed with opioids such as heroin or with stimulants such as cocaine. People who use krokodil don’t usually combine it directly with other substances.
- In addition to causing excessive tissue damage, tranq and krokodil use can both lead to addiction, overdose, and death.
- Addictions to these drugs can be treated. When a person gets the right type and level of care, they can stop using these substances and learn how to establish a drug-free lifestyle.
Treatment Options for Krokodil Addiction
Given the profound harm that this drug can cause, anyone who has become dependent on this drug should immediately seek professional care.
When trying to find the best source of help, it is important to understand the many options that are available to you. There isn’t a single type of addiction treatment that is universally effective. What matters most is finding a provider that will thoroughly assess your needs and develop a customized plan just for you.
Depending on a variety of personal factors, treatment for krokodil addiction may occur in one or more of the following programs:
- Detoxification (detox)
- Residential treatment
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient treatment
Within each of these levels, treatment may include both medical and therapeutic support.
- Certain prescription medications can alleviate cravings and other withdrawal symptoms, which can make it easier for people to stop using krokodil.
- Therapy can help people understand the issues that may have contributed to their substance abuse in the first place. During therapy sessions, people can also begin to develop the skills and strategies that will empower them to resist relapse and remain in recovery.
Some people begin with detox to help them get through krokodil withdrawal, then transfer into a residential program, where they can engage in multiple forms of therapy and benefit from round-the-clock care. After completing residential treatment, they may step down to one of the outpatient levels for additional support as they prepare to fully transition back into their homes, jobs, and communities.
In other cases, people may enter and exit treatment at the same level. Again, there is no “right” way to recover from krokodil addiction. The goal is to find the services that are right for you.
Contact Our Drug Rehab Centers in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles Detox is a trusted source of life-affirming treatment for adults in the Southern California, area who have become addicted to krokodil and other substances. We also provide programming for adults whose struggles with addiction are accompanied by certain co-occurring mental health challenges.
Our drug addiction treatment center in Los Angeles features a full continuum of care. This means that we can provide the scope of services that best align with each patient’s specific needs.
At LA Detox, we never view addiction treatment as a “one size fits all” experience. We understand that every person is affected by krokodil abuse in a unique manner, and we believe that each person who turns to us in their time of need deserves personalized care and attention.
To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.