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Tripping on Krokodil

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: heroin, drug use, Russia, krokodil, science and technology, The Independent, Will Wlizlo,

heroin-sqNecessary ingredients: lighter fluid, painkillers, industrial cleaning oil, and iodine. Equipment: syringes, vials, and cooking implements. Boil, distill, mix, boil, distill, mix. Next take the hypodermic needle and plunge up some of the amber-colored liquid. Inject it into a prominent vein, if you have any left. You’re now tripping on krokodil, a heroin substitute popular in Russia that is as deadly as it is cheap. Using over-the-counter codeine and iodine, reports The Independent’s Shaun Walker, Russian junkies hard-up for heroin have turned a basement chemistry experiment into a country-wide epidemic in just four years.

“It is a drug for the poor, and its effects are horrific,” writes Walker,

It was given its reptilian name because its poisonous ingredients quickly turn the skin scaly. Worse follows. Oleg and Sasha [two krokodil users] have not been using for long, but Oleg has rotting sores on the back of his neck. . . . Flesh goes grey and peels away to leave bones exposed. People literally rot to death.

People who start cooking krokodil, technically called desomorphine, don’t have long to live—Walker reports that regular users have an estimated life-expectancy of just one year. Nearly 30,000 people die from heroin use in Russia each year, and now the country’s heroin-treatment facilities are seeing as many as half of their patients addicted to krokodil. Not everyone succumbs to the addiction, but those that manage to escape its clutch pay a high price. Walker spoke to a former krokodil user named Zhenya: “He managed to kick the habit, after spending weeks at a detox clinic, experiencing horrendous withdrawal symptoms that included seizures, a 40-degree temperature and vomiting. He lost 14 teeth after his gums rotted away, and contracted hepatitis C.”

Source: The Independent 

Image by CrashTestAddict, licensed under Creative Commons.