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Why Are Millions Addicted To A Drug That Eats The Flesh Off Their Bones?

Why Are Millions Addicted To A Drug That Eats The Flesh Off Their Bones?

(FORBES) Codeine, gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorous from matchstick heads. Those are typical ingredients in the street drug known as krokodil, a highly addictive toxic cocktail that’s three times as cheap to produce as heroin and could be becoming an international problem.

What makes this drug so exceptionally strange, however, is that once injected it begins eating the user’s body from the inside out, causing blood vessels to burst and surrounding tissue to die. Essentially a corrosive acid with opiate effects, krokodil destroys body tissue the way battery acid eats through plastic, opening large sores that can go all the way to the bone.

Clinically known as desomorphine, on the street it’s simply called “the drug that eats junkies.”  Krokodil is reportedly 10 times as strong as codeine—its principal euphoric ingredient—and especially popular in impoverished areas where heroin is too expensive to buy, and hope seems too fanciful to indulge.

Like many “new” street drugs, desomorphine has rather old roots. First formulated in 1932 as a derivative of morphine, the drug was actually patented in Switzerland under the brand name Permonid. Because it was several times as potent as morphine (8-10 times as strong), it quickly gained in popularity with recreational users.

In its modern form, krokodil emerged around 2002 from rural Russia as a cheap heroine substitute that anyone with access to codeine pills and a few other ingredients could make in their kitchen. Over the next ten or so years, it spread across the country’s poorest communities, picking up an estimated three million addicts.  Unlike its clinically invented predecessor, krokodil is as dirty as dirty drugs come—named for the fact that users develop scaly skin like a crocodile.

Since prolonged use of the drug is terminal (the typical lifespan of a krokodil addict is estimated to be about two years), it’s impossible to really know how many people have been addicted to it, but what’s clear is that it’s no longer just Russia’s problem. Like any cheap but effective street drug, it’s spreading to other impoverished areas where people can quickly learn how to make it.

One of those places is Mexico. Continue reading via Forbes...

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