Krokodil drug is the street name for an opioid drug called desomorphine. It is a cheap heroin alternative that’s an opioid derivative of codeine, similar to morphine. Unfortunately, Krokodil also frequently contains other toxic substances like paint thinner and gasoline. So it sometimes goes by other names such as Alligator Drug, Krok, Russian Magic, Poor Man’s Heroin, and Zombie Drug. The drug was first reported in Russia around 2003 after heroin became hard to hold and prices surged. Krokodil drug became popular because it was easy to make from stuff found in hardware stores and pharmacies, not to mention it was also much cheaper than heroin. 

When injected, krokodil causes the veins and skin to become inflamed, diseased, gangrenous, discolored, and scale-like, very similar to the skin of a crocodile. Due to the drug’s physical effects, it is sometimes referred to as “flesh-eating.” Additionally, the combination of solvents and opioids profoundly affects the brain, putting the user in a passive, zombie-like condition. Krokodil drug is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, which means it has a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical purpose.

Effects Of Krokodil Drug

Krokodil’s effects can be severe. Injection of the drug can cause:

  • Skin Infections
  • Soft-Tissue Infections
  • Thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins)
  • Skin Ulceration
  • Gangrene
  • Necrosis (death of living tissue)
 Krokodil drug causes the veins and skin to become inflamed, diseased, gangrenous, discolored, and scale-like, very similar to the skin of a crocodile when injected.
Krokodil drug causes the veins and skin to become inflamed, diseased, gangrenous, discolored, and scale-like, very similar to the skin of a crocodile.

When the medication is injected, it has the potential to damage veins and causes localized infections. These infections have the potential to spread to other organs and cause harm. If an individual’s bodily parts, such as limbs, are severely contaminated, physicians may need to amputate or conduct surgery on them.

Since krokodil is a homemade opioid, the circumstances under which it is produced may pose several possible health concerns. Users who manufacture the drug often share preparation equipment and injection syringes. Sharing needles promotes the spread of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people. Due to the frequency with which krokodil is given throughout the day, this substantially increases the risk of hazardous, non-sterile needle usage. Even short-term use of krokodil may result in life-threatening health problems. Fatalities are anticipated after 2-3 years of the first dosage for persistent users, although even the initial dose may be deadly in some instances.

 Why Is It Called A “Zombie Drug”?

The media have dubbed Krokodil a “zombie drug.” Most media stories on drug usage depict addicted people with gangrene or eschars (dead patches of skin) on their bodies. The skin of krokodil injection users may turn dark, grey, or green, scabby, and flaky, mimicking the skin of a reptile or crocodile at the injection site.

Numerous spectacular claims regarding the arrival of krokodil drugs in the United States have been made based on a limited number of suspected instances; nevertheless, as of 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has not verified any cases of krokodil drug usage in the nation.

How Is Krokodil Used?

  • Krokodil is typically used by the intravenous (IV) route.
  • The drug is fast-acting within 2 to 3 minutes and 10 to 15 times more potent than morphine and three times as toxic. When the toxic chemicals are removed, desomorphine is often left, a compound very similar to heroin.
  • After a rapid onset, the euphoric effects may last less than two hours. Due to the short duration of the “high,” many users find themselves quickly repeating drug use to avoid withdrawal symptoms that resemble heroin.
  • Due to the drug’s rapid onset but the short duration of action and frequent administration.

How Does Krokodil Drug Impact The Body And Brain?

Krokodil users will never experience the same thing during each use, significantly impacting physical and behavioral characteristics. Beyond the damaging skin issues, krokodil can cause permanent physical damage to other parts of the body.

 Krokodil drug can cause erratic and violent behavior.
Krokodil drug can cause erratic and violent behavior.

Since krokodil’s effects last for only a short period, it can lead to significant addiction in users. An individual dependent on krokodil may have intense mood swings, irritation, memory loss, speech trouble, and sleep deprivation. Additionally, krokodil can cause erratic and violent behavior during a user’s high, leading to other physical consequences.

The physical symptoms and harm of krokodil drugs can be extensive, incredibly infrequent users.

Physical Symptoms Of Krokodil Use Include:

  • Muscle Aches
  • Faster or Irregular Heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood Vessel Damage
  • Rotting Gums and Tooth Loss
  • HIV transmission from needles
  • Open Skin Ulcers
  • Bone Infections
  • Extreme respiratory depression (breathing difficulty)
  • Overdose and Death

However, the physical side effects of krokodil drug impact clients differently and are more extreme for others. For example, some clients may not have total consciousness when using krokodil and may seize or pass out upon use. Others can potentially blackout or become unresponsive upon use.

Is Krokodil Addictive?

Addiction is a clear risk associated with krokodil usage, owing to the drug’s strong opioid potency and short duration of action. Frequent administration may result in days-long binge behaviors. In addition, users are more likely to experience fatigue due to sleep deprivation, memory loss, and speaking difficulties. Variations in potency or “custom” formulations may raise the danger of overdose for users. According to the DEA, repeated administration of desomorphine at short intervals to clients experiencing acute pain demonstrated that desomorphine had significant potential for addiction.

Where Can I Find Local Krokodil Treatment?

Krokodil treatment can be complex unless you consult rehab providers and addiction specialists . Without proper behavioral and clinical intervention, it can be challenging to address physical withdrawals, side effects, and mental health issues related to krokodil use. If you believe you or a loved one needs krokodil treatment, then visit We Level Up whenever you can. 

We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. In addition, our drug treatment center employs medical and mental health professionals equipped to address the extreme difficulties of krokodil.  Krokodil drug is hazardous for several reasons and should be avoided at all costs. However, by taking the time to understand krokodil’s effects, you could potentially save a life and help those at potential risk. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) –

DEA – dir-ndta-unclass.pdf (