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What Is Krokodil? Veteran Opioid Abuse

What is krokodil

More and more veterans are facing the risks of using an addictive drug known as krokodil. But what is krokodil, and how is it impacting veterans? Below, we’ll examine the known uses of krokodil, the risk factors for veterans who use this drug, and your options for getting treatment for opioid addiction today.

Veteran Use of Krokodil

This drug is best known as krokodil, the Russian word for “crocodile,” because of its serious side effects on the skin, and you might also hear it referred to as the alligator drug. But in fact, krokodil is a street name for the drug desomorphine, which was originally created as a synthetic opioid prescription to help with pain. This has been illegal in the United States since the 1930s, but it has seen a recent uptick in use. Desomorphine is most commonly used through injection.

In Russia, where krokodil is most popular, people often combine tablets of codeine (opioid pain relievers) with other drugs and toxic substances to create desomorphine or something like it. Things like lighter fluid, household cleaners, gasoline, and hydrochloric acid are substances that are frequently combined with the codeine tablets to make krokodil. This is a “homemade” recipe that is incredibly effective at getting users high quickly, but only for a short amount of time, which easily leaves them addicted and needing more of the drug to function.

Krokodil is considered a fairly new drug to the United States after it was banned nearly a century ago. Even few years ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated that there were no confirmed cases of its use or distribution in America since it was classified as a Schedule I drug—the most addictive and dangerous. But some news reports now state that the spread of this drug in the United States is already happening and that it continues to threaten lives throughout the states.

The reason why this drug poses such a serious risk for veterans is because it is a cheaper alternative to heroin. Veterans who are struggling with physical or emotional injuries after serving might seek out drugs like krokodil in addition to other painkillers to get some relief. After all, krokodil is 10 times more potent than morphine. Thus, this drug is incredibly addictive for veterans. Moreover, veterans who use this drug are not only in danger of becoming addicted to it, but they are also subject to krokodil’s deadly side effects.

Krokodil Side Effects

Krokodil Side Effects

Most notably, injecting krokodil can cause necrosis: a medical condition in which there is no blood flow to certain areas of the body, causing the living tissue to die off. Necrosis usually results in areas of the skin turning black, scaly, and unusable. Necrosis cannot be cured and often leads to other conditions called thrombophlebitis and gangrene. Usually, the only effective treatment with necrosis, thrombophlebitis, and gangrene is amputation of the affected area.

The krokodil drug is also known as the zombie drug because of this side effect. Essentially, it can make users’ bodies rot from the inside out. They are left with crocodile-like skin at the injection site that can be very painful and leave them feeling as though they are burning from the inside of their skin. The rotting of skin can go deeper, affecting blood vessels, muscles, and spreading all the way down to the bone itself.

If this is not bad enough, there are other side effects of krokodil that leave users in agony, including:

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  • Muscle deterioration
  • Bone damage
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Loss of limbs
  • Lower life expectancy
  • Overdose
  • Death

How to Get Help for Krokodil Addiction

How to Get Help for Krokodil Addiction

Any opioid poses a risk to veterans who are struggling with addiction, but this is especially true for krokodil addiction. If you think that you might be impacted by the effects of krokodil, it’s important to seek medical attention and professional treatment right away. Krokodil addiction is a matter of life or death for many people—it takes the right care, treatment options, and recovery support to keep somebody away from the dangers of this fatal drug.

The first step is to join an addiction recovery center that is equipped to guide you through the detoxification process in a way that is safe and secure. Withdrawal symptoms are usually the first hurdle for many veterans facing addiction. This is why having access to a supportive and medically safe environment during detox is so important. You will be able to make it through the physical start to recovery while preparing for the emotional and mental work that waits ahead.

After detox, the next steps toward recovery include following a treatment path that works for your needs and goals. Whether you need residential treatment, a partial hospitalization program, or intensive outpatient therapy, you will have the chance to recover fully from the grips of addiction and whatever other co-occurring mental health disorders you might be going through.

Lastly, veterans should have specialized treatment opportunities that take all of their experiences into consideration. Veterans are more likely than members of the general population to struggle with conditions like PTSD, substance use disorder, and others. In addition to this, veterans have a unique path through life that looks different than civilian patients who need addiction treatment. So it only seems right that veterans get the type of care that works specifically for them.

Opioid Addiction Recovery at Heroes’ Mile

Luckily, Heroes’ Mile has a unique angle when it comes to treatment for veterans. Our treatment facility is not only made for veterans, but it has been created by other vets who know exactly what it’s like to serve, face traumatic experiences, and need the space to recover with others who can give the necessary support. And with many veterans on staff, we follow a philosophy that is all about veterans serving veterans. Here, you will get to work with your fellow service members to understand just what it means to recover from addictions to opioids, alcohol, etc. in an environment that is made for you.

If you are ready to leave the krokodil addiction behind, give us a call at 888-838-6692. Not quite feeling ready to talk? We’re here to take all of your questions, concerns, and recovery goals through our confidential contact form as well. Recovery from addiction might seem impossible now, but at Heroes’ Mile, you will have the support you need to get back on your feet and find health and happiness once again.


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