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Krokodil tears – Substance abuse treatment South Africa

What used to be a drug that only appeared in our rehab centre’s worst nightmares, Krokodil has now become a scary reality for substance abuse in South Africa.

Although there are several drugs that are extremely addictive and physically destructive, Krokodil has set a new record for rapid devastation of the mind, body and spirit of its users.

Krokodil addiction video - Substance abuse South Africa

To view a documentary about Krokodil addiction, click on the image. 

(Warning graphic content, sensitive viewers are not advised!) 

Where did Krokodil come from?

Desomorphine, otherwise known by its street name, Krokodil or ‘The Zombie Drug’ is an opioid derivative of codeine.

Originally, Desomorphine originally was used in Switzerland and Russia to treat severe pain, until it was made illegal in 1981.

Krokodil that is found on the street is assumed to contain Desomorphine, however due to illegal, home-made engineering of the drug, it often contains other unknown substances, and in a lot of cases, no Desomorphine at all.

How is Krokodil produced at home?

The process of ‘cooking’ Krokodil is similar to the production of illegal methamphetamine (Meth) or TIK.

Drug dealers and users can easily purchase the ingredients from their local pharmacy and hardware store, which include:

  • Codeine;
  • Paint thinner;
  • Lighter fluid;
  • Iodine;
  • Hydrochloric acid;
  • and red phosphorus scraped from the strike pads on matchboxes.

Homemade versions of Krokodil are extremely dangerous because the chemicals used are not always ‘cooked’ or combined correctly.

Users mix codeine with the concoction of the above solvents, resulting in a cloudy yellow liquid with a pungent smell and an extremely potent high causing a sedative and analgesic effect, similar to Heroin.

Negative effects of Krokodil

The name Krokodil refers to chlorocodide, a codeine derivative in the synthetic path to Desomorphine.

However, the drug also gets its name from what it does to its user’s skin, turning it green; scaly and bumpy like a crocodile’s.

The most common negative side-effects thus far are from injecting Krokodil. If a user misses their vein and injects into flesh, that part of flesh will develop abscesses and in some cases flesh will fall off in chunks.

Reported health risks caused by injection use:

  • Blood vessel damage;
  • Open ulcers;
  • Gangrene;
  • Phlebitis;
  • Soft tissue and skin infections;
  • Limb amputations;
  • Speech and motor skills impairment;
  • Memory loss and impaired concentration;
  • Liver and kidney damage;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Meningitis;
  • Rotting gums & tooth loss;
  • Blood-borne virus transmission (HIV/HCV due to needle sharing);
  • Blood poisoning;
  • Bone infections (Osteomyelitis);
  • Overdose;
  • Death.

The negative effects on soft tissue occur relatively quickly after a person begins using Krokodil.

Krokodil addiction is a serious problem due to its high potency and short duration of effect, usually only lasting about 2 hours. While the life expectancy of heroin addict is 4 to 7 years, the life expectancy of a Krokodil addict is only a year or 2.

An environment manifesting addiction

There are a number of social factors that play a role in creating an environment that manifests drug addiction.

In Russia, the high unemployment and poverty rate have led to a severe heroin addiction problem which in turn due to the high poverty rate has led to the widespread use of Krokodil, its cheaper, more accessible cousin.

When heroin supplies are low or when addicts cannot afford their heroin supply, desperation leads them to start using Krokodil in order to combat withdrawal symptoms.

Step Away Substance Abuse Treatment Centre South Africa

Step Away would like to warn our readers; their family and their friends about the dangers of Krokodil.

A number of stories have been told where the individual thought they were buying Heroin however they were actually tricked into buying Krokodil.

While Krokodil addiction in South Africa is not yet as prevalent as Heroin addiction, the numbers of reported cases have begun to rise.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with a substance addiction, please contact us.

We can help.

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