If you thought jenkem was bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Meet krokodil, a drug that's arguably the most gruesome byproduct of drug prohibition since it began. Simply typing the drug’s name into Google images produces an onslaught of stomach-turning pictures of rotting flesh (you’ve been warned). So what is this monster drug and who is using it?
Krokodil is a slang term for homemade desomorphine—a heroin-like drug that is made from a caustic mixture of codeine, paint thinner, gasoline, hydrochloric acid and red phosphorus. The name comes from the Russian for “crocodile” and refers to the green, scaly appearance of the skin after injecting the drug. Understandably, most chronic users don’t survive longer than two or three years and often end up with permanent disfigurations. Because of its high acidity, krokodil often causes gangrene and amputations, even after only one use.
So who the hell is desperate enough to use this drug? Short answer: poor Russians. In Russia, where heroin has become scarce in the past few years, krokodil has become a growing trend due to the easy availability of OTC codeine. According to Time magazine, somewhere between a hundred thousand and 1 million people were thought to be injecting the drug in 2010.
Needless to say, krokodil and other deadly imitation drugs would not exist if not for drug prohibition. By making safer drugs (in this case, heroin) illegal, we open the doors to an endless array of Frankendrugs like krokodil. This situation is another frightening example of how far we humans will go to alter our consciousness, providing further proof that addiction will never be "defeated" within our species--drug war or no. Suddenly, 'Just Say No' doesn't sound so extreme.