If you do a quick Google search you’ll learn it means crocodile in Russian, it used to be the name of a 20th century Soviet magazine, and you might come across one TIME magazine article and a disturbing video of how it’s also a very dangerous drug growing into an epidemic in Russia.
The name krokodil comes from its trademark side effect: scaly green skin like a crocodile around the injection site. TIME calls it “the dirty cousin of morphine,” because it’s three times cheaper than heroin and very easy to make, being that its main ingredient is codeine, a behind-the-counter drug that has sent many of America’s famous rap community to prison.
The medical name of krokodil is desomorphine. A quick search for that will bring up graphic images of people with swollen faces, exposed bones and muscles and skin rotting off on any given body part.
The reason the drug is so anatomically destructive is due to its mix-ins. Users stir in ingredients “including gasoline, paint thiner, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorus which they scrape from the striking pads on matchboxes,” reports TIME.
The drug isn’t filtered before consumption, meaning the high amounts of industrial chemicals enter the body, each chemical destroying a different area: the endocrine system, bone tissue, the nervous system and the liver and kidneys. Circulation is disrupted so severely it often leads to the death of a person’s limbs which inevitably have to be amputated. “Non-healing ulcers appear on the body and a person literally rots alive".