Zombie Drug Finds Home in the United States
As zombies crawl or stagger their way across our television screens, it seems increasingly improbable that we’d be shocked by anything resembling such creatures were we presented with it in real life. Perhaps this is because it seems so impossible—the idea of a zombie-like thing approaching us in real. But we’re seeing a form of it, this zombification of the human body in the new-to-the-United States drug krokodil.
The drug krokodil: What’s in it?
The drug, desomorphine, causes scaly and disintegrating skin, but works from the inside out, essentially rotting flesh and blood. First, the soft, fleshy tissue around the site of injection is damaged. Next, the drug clumps in the veins, failing to dissolve entirely into the blood. These chunks move to other places in the body and damage the tissue around their landing site. The decay begins. Google it if you want to see photographs, but be prepared to lose your lunch. Krokodil is not a drug for the weak-stomached.
But desomorphine is also referred to as a zombie drug because it has a short half-life, which means the drug is acquired and administered on repeat, which leaves little time for anything besides withdrawal and reacquisition of the substance, thus creating zombies. There’s also an incredibly high mortality rate among users of krokodil—most addicts die within two years.
Why are people using krokodil?
Though the destruction is terrible and terrifying, the drug is gaining popularity around the world, even appearing in the United States. Like heroin but even cheaper, krokodil can be manufactured in someone’s home, much like methamphetamine. Consisting of codeine and available chemicals (which might include iodine, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, hydrochloric acid, gasoline, paint thinner, and red phosphorous, etc.) the drug is extremely dangerous.
In the United States, krokodil is being called “poor man’s meth”, which is really saying something, given the nature of meth and meth addiction. Now, law enforcement officials are learning that it may have been in the US for longer than originally thought—a few years, even. Right now, reported cases are limited to Arizona, Utah (still under investigation), Illinois, and Oklahoma.
It’s gaining popularity among young people and also the very poor. No one is taking the drug casually, either. It’s an all or nothing addiction, and it’s killing too many. And, unlike zombies, they’re not coming back.
If you or someone you know is at risk, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. And please leave your questions about krokodil below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.