It’s the stuff of nightmares, lurid zombie movies, and trashy 1950s horror flicks—but the flesh-rotting drug that eats addicts alive is horribly, frighteningly real and it’s spreading across Europe.
Probably horror flick maven Wes Craven couldn’t come up with a more malevolent scenario: helpless addicts desperate for their next fix shooting a chemical hell into their surging bloodstream.
And after some months have passed they morph into reptiles, the pain begins, and the screaming starts. In the end, the only comfort is the eternal peace of the grave.
From Russia, without love
First appearing in Russia, the virulent drug “Krokodil” (crocodile) is rumored to have recently turned up in Germany. According to authorities several known addicts died from the drug.
Krokodil is especially horrific. Known by those in drug circles, addicts call Krokodil “the drug that eats junkies.” While a lurid description it’s accurate, except one more word should be added: “alive.” That’s because once the drug enters the body it starts killing tissues until they turn gangrenous and phlebitis sets in. Eventually the rotting sores slough off enough muscle to expose living bone to the open air.
Worried that the narcotic might jump the border from either Russia or Germany, officials in the Czech Republic’s state drug agency have issued urgent warnings to their citizens to alert them to the extreme danger Krokodil presents.
In a June 20, 2011 article published by TIME Magazine, the horrors of Krokodil and the medical mayhem it’s caused in the Russian Federation were graphically outlined. According to TIME more than a million Russians have been eaten alive by the terrifying substance.
Just one dose of the killer drug often results in wholesale amputation of arms and legs. Sometimes appendages like ears and noses must be severed and a few have had their tongues sliced from their mouths by surgeons desperate to keep their rotting patients alive.
Despite the heroic efforts by the medical community most addicts succumb to the ravages of the drug within a year. A few struggle on—as virtually limbless torsos—for one or two years more before merciful death finally takes them.
A cocktail of misery, pain, and ghastly death
The symptoms of Krokodil poisoning are similar to the staph infection known as the “flesh eating disease.” While the infection is caused by a mutated virus, the narcotic accomplishes the same thing chemically. While the virus eats its way from the outside in, the narcotic eats its way from the inside out.
The drug gets it name from the initial symptoms of poisoning: the user’s skin turns a sickly green and becomes scaly like a crocodile.
Krokodil’s a deadly concoction brewed by the Devil himself: crude paint thinner, caustic acid, poisonous phosphorus, and strong painkillers purchased over-the-counter at retail stores. Chemists call the demonic drug desomorphine. Law enforcement officials state that some addicts boost the drug’s potency by liberally spiking it with gasoline.
When the addicts shoot it into themselves they can inject it anywhere from head to toe. Almost immediately they experience a heroin-like high—while committing slow-motion suicide in one of the most grisly ways imaginable.
What they pump into their veins is a mixture of chemicals that mimics the properties of morphine—it acts like a raging bonfire attracting the moth-like addict who willing dances with death.
Drug enforcement authorities say one “hit” goes for about ten dollars on the street—much less than heroin—so it appeals mostly to existing heroin addicts.
Campaigns are being planned in other European countries to educate drug users to stay far away from Krokodil. Not only does it turn make the user appear like a reptile—before killing him or her—but as one lucky survivor of the drug admitted to a TIME Magazine correspondent: “I was beautiful when I started out, but what happened…It was like living in a horrible swamp.”
Swamps are natural place for crocodiles, but not beautiful human beings.