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Is The Krocodil Craze Overhyped?

For months we’ve been hearing about the “flesh-eating” drug that goes by the Russian street name Krocodil. Developed as a cheaper and more powerful substitute for heroin, the drug has made headlines with cringe-worthy images of rotted flesh in chronic users.

The origins of Krocodil stem from the narcotic pain medication called desomorphine – not a new drug, but one significantly more powerful than morphine. Krocodil is a homemade version, using codeine as a base and often mixed with various harsh chemicals including gasoline. The high is intense, much like heroin, but so are the physical effects on the body. The continued injection of these corrosive chemicals can eventually cause gangrenous wounds and fantastic headlines.

A Forbes article by Jacob Sullum1 posits that the concerns of Krocodil reaching epidemic levels on US shores is overhyped and not based in reality. He postures that a heroin crackdown and readily available codeine in Russia has essentially forced this homemade drug into existence. On the other hand, Codeine is regulated by prescription and heroin is more available here in the US. Basically, the question is, why would anyone use Krocodil here? Further, Mr. Sullum notes that most, if not all, of the reported cases of Krocodil usage in the United States are unfounded.

So what’s the truth? In a time where new and potent drugs are hitting the streets seemingly monthly, it is easy to get caught up in the possibility that they are sweeping the nation. More likely, striking pictures and a touch of hysteria has made Krocodil the flavor of the month. Indeed, we can’t take our eye off of the fact that there are serious consequences to drug use – no matter what the drug. Krocodil may not yet be in fashion here in the US, but should remain on our radar. More importantly, this and other drugs have a significant psychological and physical affect on abusers. If nothing else, these headlines do bring some perspective to affects of addiction

1 Sullum, Jacob. “Krokodil Crock: How Rumors Of A ‘Flesh-Eating Zombie Drug’ Swept The Nation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.