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What is Desomorphine?

Overview: Desomorphine (dihydrodesoxymorphine or dihydrodeoxymorphine-D) is a synthetic opioid derived from morphine and developed in the United States in the 1930s. It is about ten times more powerful than morphine. Desomorphine produces an opiate-like action with a fast onset and brief reaction. Commonly referred to as "krokodil", "homemade versions of the drug start with codeine, and can be ‘cooked’ similar to illicit methamphetamine (“meth”) production. Organic solvents such as gasoline, paint thinner, or lighter fluid, iodine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorus (from matches) are used in homemade synthesis. These dangerous chemicals are not always fully “cooked” out of the concoction when used to make illicit krokodil" ( It is prevalent in Eastern Europe and Russia as a cheaper substitute to heroin but use has been reported in the USA. Users in America may unknowingly buy krokodil off the streets under the assumption they are buying heroin.

Street Names: Cheornaya, Crocodil, Krokodil, Himiya, Russian Magic, Zombie Drug


Looks Like: Desomorphine starts off as a white/ off-white powder mixture and is combined with other liquid chemicals to inject. The color of the liquid desomorphine varies depending on the solvent used.


Methods of Abuse: Users inject desomorphine intravenously as they would heroin.


Affect on Mind: Positive effects often include sedation, euphoria,  and pain relief. Common negative effects include constipation, itching, nausea and vomiting, urinary retention, decreased libido, and respiratory depression. Other reactions include pupil constriction, flushing, and a pins-and-needles feeling. Serious consequences can include respiratory failure, allergic reactions, seizures, and physical and psychological dependency, which can all lead to death. Reports show that desomorphine has higher addiction rates and is harder to get off of than heroin.


Affect on Body: There are many adverse physical effects from desomorphine use; including but not limited to: disruption of endocrine system muscle destruction due to iodine, bone damage due to high phosphorus levels, nervous system damage and liver and kidney inflammation due to iron/zinc/lead/antimony content, ulcers that will not heal, arms and legs that wither and die, veins used for injection burn up from the toxic chemicals, gangrene and absesses, and overall decline of health. Skin around injection sites will change color, scale (like a crocodile) and rot to the bone (hence the nickname "zombie drug").


Drugs Causing Similar Effects: Heroin


Overdose Effects: Death

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