Krokodil is an opiate whose use is sweeping across the Russian landscape like a deadly plague. The drug first appeared in 2002, but today accounts for nearly half of Russia’s drug addicted population. Nearly one million young Russians are succumbing to the drug’s gruesome power.
The medical term for the drug is desomorphine and it is sometimes referred to as morphine’s dirty cousin. Dirty because of the way that the drug is made. The drug is cooked with a recipe whose key ingredient is codeine. To the codeine, home manufacturers add solvents like gasoline, hydrochloric acid, iodine, paint thinner and even the phosphorous scrapings from the sides of matchboxes. Users then inject themselves with the corrosive brew whose high lasts not more than an hour or so. The damage done to the tissue surrounding the injection site is far more lasting.
Devastating Effects Of Krokodil
The drug is called Krokodil because the skin surrounding the site of injection resembles a crocodile’s. With frightening quickness the skin turns green and scale-like as blood vessels burst and tissue dies. Instances of gangrene have become common and often the user faces amputation related to the drug’s devastating effect. This drug can permanently destroy important brain function, result in physical disfigurement and consistent users rarely live beyond two to three years.
The federal Drug Control Services of Russia report that from 2009 to 2010 alone use of the drug grew 23x. Before the end of the first quarter of 2011, authorities had taken possession of an astounding 45 million doses. Krokodil produces an effect similar to heroin (Russia’s drug of choice among addicts) but is three times cheaper to produce. Made from codeine which is available over-the-counter and an array of ingredients readily accessible, the drug is both inexpensive and simple to create, which explains why it has been termed the ‘drug for the poor’. The poor and the young, unemployed or underemployed are most likely to be Krokodil users.
Russia has 2.5 million drug addicts according to Health Ministry officials. Most of those are addicted to heroin, the other roughly half are enslaved to heroin’s dirty cousin Krokodil. Yet the Russian government has been unprepared to rehabilitate its drug addicted citizens. Until recently there have been only a few government sponsored rehabilitation facilities in which to house and treat addicts. On the other hand, Evangelical Christians within Russia run 500 self-supporting rehab centers where addicts are slowly reintroduced to the normal routines of life along with Bible study and prayer.
Those at the highest levels of government appear to be waking up to the rampant danger of Krokodil. Plans are in place to create a network of rehabilitation centers to help turn back the tide of Krokodil addiction in the country.