The first cases of krokodil was reported in the United States in September 2013. Public heath programs in the state of Arizona identified two cases of the drug in September.
The official name of the chemical is desomorphine, and it was first identified in Russia in 2002. The drug is made with a mix of over-the-counter headache pills that is mixed with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol. Users in Russia have been using the drug as a cheaper form of heroin, since krokodil costs three times as less.
The drug eats away at the user’s skin tissue, which causes the skin to run scaly and green like a crocodile, thus creating the nickname. In 2011, Buzzfeed had a post that showed the effects of krokodil on the body. (Warning: Extremely Graphic Photos.)
According to security services in Russia, the average lifespan of a krokodil user from the time they become addicted to the drug is 1 to 1.5 years. As of 2012, the rate of abuse of the drug is increasing by 50 to 70 percent each year in Russia. The value of the krokodil market in Russia was estimated to be worth $100 Million.
In the United States, the use of heroin has been increasing in recent years. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. the use of heroin in the US increased by 66 percent between 2007 and 2011. With krokodil being a cheaper form of heroin, the risks of the drug spreading throughout the United States is high.
Source: Michael Winter, “Flesh-rotting ‘krokodil’ drug emerges in USA,” USA Today, September 26, 2013.