Known as krokodil, the potentially lethal opiate originated in Russia and has started to surface in other areas of the world — most recently in Phoenix, Arizona. The highly addictive active ingredient — desomorphine — creates a heroin-like high for a cheaper price. Unlike some heroin, however, krokodil is highly impure.
"I think what's especially bad about krokodil, or crocodile, is that it's a mixture of a number of things that might be cooked up in a kitchen, or might be cooked up in a bathroom by people who are really, sort of, amateur chemists," explains Dr. Aaron Skolnik, a medical toxicologist with The Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix. "[Desomorphine] is similar to heroin and morphine, but many times more potent, and then all the stuff that's left over are things that are probably better left on the shelf of a hardware store."
Statistics show that once someone starts injecting krokodil, they only have a one- to two-year life expectancy.