What is Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug, What is it Made of; Know its Effects, Abuse and Warning?

Coming from the Russian origin, the Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug is one of the disastrous drugs that are slowly getting into other soils. The name of the drug, Krokodil, means crocodile in Russian language. As the site of injecting this drug turns green, tough and scaly like the skin of a crocodile, it is named after this reptile.

What is Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug?

What is Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug?

It was in the year 2002 that the Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug first appeared in Russia. Gradually, the krokodil drug spread all across Russia and other many other countries, even to the U.S. What makes the Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug so destructive are the harsh addiction that it causes and also the fast destruction of body, mind and soul.

As the name refers to, Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug truly rots the skin off the bones. The destructive outcome of Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug that can be observed during the later stages of its addiction has already gone viral. This lethal drug can seemingly turn individuals into zombies and that is the reason why krokodil drug has also been commonly called as the “zombie apocalypse drug”.

What is the Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug Made of?

The medical name of the Krokodil drug is Desomorphine. It is also referred to as a “Moonshine drug”, as it is often cooked at home. The basic ingredient of this drug is codeine, which is a painkiller that is commonly purchased over the counter for treating headaches. Codeine is cooked with gasoline, paint thinner, iodine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorus collected from matchsticks.

This homemade drug took off in Russia as it was quite difficulty for Russia to smuggle in Heroin. Users prefer taking krokodil drug using injections as it has a faster effect. It takes only about 5 to 10 minutes to experience the effects; whereas the tablet form takes about an hour or two.

The Switch from Heroin to Krokodil Drug

It was in Russia that the Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug first started its journey, hugely owing to the scarcity of Heroin. Russians were found to switch to this “stronger” addictive called Desomorphine that was easy to avail, easy to make and also cost 1/10th of the cost of Heroin. It takes only about half an-hour to prepare or cook this drug. All that the user requires are the ingredients that are quite easily available. However, it must also be mentioned that the life expectancy of Krokodil drug users or flesh eating drug addicts is only about a year or two.

Effects of Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug

  • Rots off the Flesh: As already mentioned, Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug receives its name from the fact that it causes the addict’s skin to turn into scaly, green and bumpy, just like the skin of a crocodile. It is referred to as gangrene in the medical terms.

Along with gangrene, there are many other adverse effects of this drug.

  • Toxicity as a Severe Side Effect of Krokodil Drug: Since this drug is “cooked”, the by-products that have the maximum amount of side effects or adverse effects on the body are not removed during the synthesis. As a consequence, when Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug is injected into the body, it damages the skin, bone, muscles and blood vessels. Those, who take krokodil drug for a long term, may even need to undergo limb amputation as the skin, muscles and flesh completely rot off the bone, exposing the bones. This is because of the excessive amount of iodine and phosphorus as well as some other toxic substances that lead to this condition. If the Desomorphine is in its purest form and is not “cooked” at home, the effects would not be as harsh. The toxicity leads to other adverse effects, besides gangrene and those include –
    • Pneumonia
    • Phlebitis
    • Meningitis
    • Blood clots or thrombosis
    • Osteomyelitis – a certain type of bone infection
    • Septicaemia – a certain type of blood infection
    • Kidney and liver damage
    • Brain damage.

Even acquiring HIV/AIDS has a higher risk in the Krokodil drug users.

  • Abscess due to Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug Usage: Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug is injected into the veins. However, in case the user or addict misses the veins and injects the dose into the muscles, it creates abscess of the flesh.
  • Other Side Effects of Krokodil or Flesh Eating Drug: Along with the physical effects and obvious side effects, there are certain other adverse effects of Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug that cannot be left ignored. These are –
    • Decreased respiration
    • Increased level of general depression.

Even an increased digestive activity is also encountered in the addicts.

Despite the horrible and fatal consequences along with the usual side effects, people still take Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug because it is cheap, stronger than Heroin, very potent and 10 times more sedative.

What are the Warning of Abuse or the Withdrawal Impacts of Krokodil Drug or Flesh Eating Drug?

The withdrawal impacts of Krokodil are way more adverse in comparison to Heroin. Usually the results of Heroin withdrawal last for about 10 days. However, the withdrawal consequences of Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug usually last for about a month and it is an unbearable pain that the addict has to experience. The krokodil drug addict may even pass out due to this pain and extremely strong tranquilizers are given to prevent this condition.

There are high chances that the krokodil drug addict will not survive the withdrawal period. Even if he or she does, there are possibilities of permanent damages or consequences such as –

  • Vacant gaze
  • Speech impediment
  • Erratic movements.

The average life expectancy of a Krokodil drug user or flesh eating drug addict is two to three years. This means that the Krokodil drug addicts will survive less than what Heroin and other addicts survive.

Is there any Treatment for Krokodil Drug Users or Flesh Eating Drug Addicts?

Withdrawal of Krokodil Drug is really hard. There is actually no treatment or rehab available for Krokodil drug addict as along with the consequence, the withdrawal symptoms are also too difficult to cope with. Still, in case one manages to withdraw from this habit, one will have to undergo the skin grafting treatment to overcome the skin, muscle and flesh abscess and rotting. This is a very complex procedure and will not treat the gangrenous flesh or muscles and skin completely. In fact, there is no way that the rotted up skin or muscles will grow back.


Krokodil drug or flesh eating drug is indeed a dangerous drug and one must avoid using the drug at all cost. The impacts of the drug are tremendous owing to the fact that the skin, flesh, bones and muscles starts rotting at the site where it is injected. Once used, the person becomes addicted to it very quickly and quitting the usage of the drug is extremely difficult. The withdrawal symptoms are often unbearable and many a time individuals die during this time due to pain. Hence, the drug must be avoided under all possible circumstances.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 21, 2017

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