More cases of Krokodil use are reportedly popping up around the United States, prompting some medical professionals to warn that the addictive, poisonous drug has reached American shores.
The Chicago Tribune reported last week that at least six people in the Chicago area were suspected of having used the opiate drug that can cause the skin to rot away. A woman from Joliet, Ill. chronicled her krokodil addiction to Joliet Patch. And, an Arizona poison control center said in September it had received what was suspected to be the first two calls about cases of Krokodil use in the country.
Krokodil, scientific name desomorphine, is an opiate in the same family as heroin, oxycodone and codeine. Krokodil has a faster onset, shorter duration of high and is more potent than morphine.
Opiates are especially addictive because they directly influence the reward center of the brain. The more of an addictive substance a user takes, the more that center of their brain is activated, Dr. Richard Friedman, director of the psychopharmacology clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, told CBSNews.com.
"It's more rewarding than any other naturally occurring thing," Friedman said of an opiate drug. "Nothing feels quite as good as it does."
Krokodil has grown in popularity, especially in Russia, where heroin addiction is rampant. About 1 million users are estimated to be abusing the drug in Russia, according to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Vice chronicled the ongoing battle against the addictive drug in their documentary "Krokodil Tears."
It doesn't help that the drug is easy to produce at home with codeine, gasoline, paint thinner and a few other ingredients. Codeine is sold over-the-counter in Russia, and addicts can easily purchase these items necessary to cook the drug.
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