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Have You Heard of the World's Deadliest Drug?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 14, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We've written a lot about many dangerous drugs, most of which you can get with a prescription. But the world's deadliest drug might be a home-cooked synthetic drug using over-the-counter pills as its base. Called "krokodil" in Russia, the drug is a DIY version of desomorphine -- a powerful, fast-acting opioid -- users can make at home using codeine, iodine, and red phosphorous.

And if that doesn't sound appealing, wait until we get to the side effects: gangrene, meningitis, and skin damage with tissue sometimes falling off the bone. And yes, death. Here's what you need to know about krokodil:

From Russia, With Love

Krokodil first attracted attention in Russia around 2010 when law enforcement began cracking down on heroin trafficking. Looking for a replacement, users learned they could synthesize desomorphine at home and for cheaper than they were paying for heroin. Krokodil use spiked in Russia and Ukraine around 2012, when authorities introduced new laws restricting the sale of medications containing codeine.

There are two theories about how homemade desomorphine acquired its reptilian moniker. One posits the similarity between the drug name and the chemical name of the precursor: a-chlorocodide. Another notes the similarity of an addict's drug-damaged skin to crocodile leather. Whatever the case, krokodil has become synonymous with deadly synthetic drug addiction.

A Danger at Home

Whether krokodil has made an impact in the United States is up for debate. Reports of American desomorphine abuse are rare and contested. A DEA spokesman told "we have not seen it yet in the U.S.," before adding, "we would not be surprised when that day comes."

Drug addiction in any form, whether to illegal narcotics or to prescription medication, can be physically, emotionally, and legally damaging, and addicts and their loved ones should seek help immediately. There is also legal help available for those who've been injured by dangerous drugs. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.

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