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Codeine, benzine, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid and red phosphorus – that’s what goes into “Krokodil,” a drug that originated in Russia and is believed to have now hit Western Europe. In Germany, workers in drug cafés have reported seeing “disastrous skin conditions and damage to soft tissue” among Krokodil users.

Police in Frankfurt and Bochum have so far been unable to confirm the presence of the drug, but experts say that the physical reactions observed in certain addicts indicate that they are caused by the drug.

Many users don’t know what is in the drug, the effects of which make crystal meth look benign by comparison. In Russia, cough medicine and headache medication containing codeine can be bought without a prescription, allowing addicts to mix the drug cocktail themselves.

The name crocodile is believed to be derived from the infections around the injection areas where the skin turns green and dies. The scaly green condition spreads to the rest of the body and the toxic drug also effects bone tissue, eating away at users from the inside. Amputations are sometimes necessary, but users usually don’t live for more than two to three years after starting to use this highly addictive drug.

Use of the drug is growing in Russia because it is cheap: one dose costs about 5 euros (as opposed to 50 euros for heroin), but the resulting euphoria is similar to that experienced by heroin users. Many heroin addicts who can no longer afford that drug switch over to "Krokodil," even though the effects last for less than two hours.

Experts believe that since codeine is not available without a prescription in German pharmacies, the drug is made in Russia, transported along the usual drug routes – Warsaw, Berlin, Hanover – to the rest of Germany, and sold as heroin to users. 

Since the immediate effects of "Krokodil" are similar to those of heroin, users may have to use it for two or three weeks before becoming aware of the dangerous side-effects and thus realzing that what they were sold was something other than heroin.

Read the full original article in German by Julia Gleixner

Photo - CrashTestAddict

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