I've just read about krokodil and saw some quite hideous pictures about what it does to the human body. I guess just desomorphine alone wouldn't have this effect.
Which ingredient(s) causes the damage to the tissue?

  • $\begingroup$ Desomorphine is made from Codeine back in USA in 1932. But Codeine is made from caffeine, paracetamol, or diphenhydramine in Russia. Finally Krokodil as it is called in Russia is made from crude method by mixing codeine-based headache pills with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol. I do not know what else they mix as it is done by purely amateurs. So these toxic substances might produce some byproducts which might cause those damages. $\endgroup$
    – Pradeep S
    Sep 27, 2013 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


Note: Don't click on the links, or even search for information, if you don't have a strong stomach

From what I've read, it's not necessarily 100% known, most likely because it's not easy to study (small, reclusive users who die quickly of a complex concoction) but the line everyone has quoted is:

"They extract [the drug] and even though they believe that most of the oil and gasoline is gone, there is still remnants of it. You can imagine just injecting a little bit of it into your veins can cause a lot of damage… it eats you from the inside out".

That's from Dr. Frank LoVecchio in Phoenix, Arizona, who saw two cases within a week. It's not hugely scientific, but it's not wrong. Krokodil is never pure and highly toxic chemicals are thus injected into the veins. If you want specifics, then gasoline, hydrochloric acid, phosphorous scraped off matchboxes, paint thinner, iodine, and cleaning oils. Injecting any one of those should be enough to kill a repeated user. Those substances rupture blood vessels, and the subsequent leakage creates gangrenous wounds like you see in the pictures.


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