Move over meth and crack. In Siberia the drug of the day for those living in poverty is known as krokodil. The chemical name is desomorphine (note the end word being morphine), former brand name Permonid .It is a derivative of morphine with lots of crap mixed into it. It was used in Switzerland up until 1981 as a morphine substitute. Dose by dose it is eight to ten times more potent and powerful than morphine. After it was banned, one person in Switzerland was legally permitted to use K for pain. This stuff must have been reserved for your truly in-agony in-patients. K is one of the nastiest gutter drugs you`ll ever hear about (but hopefully not encounter). The name krokodil results from the utterly nasty effect krokodil has on the user`s skin – after turning green and scaly due to
gangrene poisoning, it dries up and falls off in chunks and strands, down to the bone. Seriously.The picture on the left isn`t Hollywood makeup. That really is someone`s arm. Layers of subcutaneous fat, muscle, various tissue are disintegrated until the bone beneath is completely exposed, resulting in a horror-movie look. The user`s behaviour in fact adopts a zombie-like effect: moaning, groaning, disorientation, swinging and twitching limbs, difficulty in standing up straight and walking, and a complete unawareness of one`s environment. None of this is surprising when you consider its ingredients: lighter fluid, gasoline, paint thinner and codeine tablets. People inject this stuff into their bodies. I know, right. It is one of the most horrific effects of drug use I`ve ever witnessed.
Krokodil is extremely addictive. It also has reached epic proportions in Siberia. It has arrived in the United States and although it is certainly not used to the extent of methamphetamine, that it is being used at all and that it has arrived, is horrifying. It has been suggested that krokodil use in the States ended in 2004. Let`s hope so.
Why do people use krokodil. Why do people use anything they use.
Krokodil however has a few advantages for the drug user over other street drugs:
- it is extremely cheap – it costs only one-tenth of drugs such as heroin or cocaine
- a heroin shortage occurred in the 1990s in Siberia leading to a search for a new, potent drug
- it causes an immediate and intense high
- it helps to alleviate emotional suffering – like all drugs
- it is particularly used in poverty-stricken
environments and hence the reason it is so affordable
- it is an escape from the ills of poverty and personal issues
When skin loss and skin damage happens and the user starts to look quite ghastly, I don`t think he or she cares much anymore. It isn`t just one syringe that does it. It takes many. For some people, it takes several months before this dreadful symptom shows and it usually begins in the area around the injection. When it goes septic, it spreads fast and within two years, the user is dead. And to compound things, AIDS, HIV and Hep C are on the rise again in Siberia due to shared needles when using K.
The drug is destructive. It isn`t something you would use to party, like ecstasy. It is used to alleviate suffering but of course, it merely intensifies suffering between use. When the U.S.S.R. infrastructure collapsed poverty increased substantially in Siberia, and with it a need for something to escape the misery of hunger and homelessness. Heroin became a thing of the past since supply couldn`t keep up with demand and of course, fewer people could afford to finance their habit. Enter krokodil. The effect is so bad that the Siberian government cannot discern between growth or decline in human population at the moment.
Siberia itself was a factor in shutting down the supply of heroin. It managed to close the door on heroin supply and distribution but it didn`t flip the coin and respond with facilities such as methadone clinics and counselling centres. It also wasn`t able to turn around its own economic downturn. Of course krokodil was the answer to the lack of heroin and although it seems to alleviate suffering while the person is on a zombie-like high, over time it actually compounds suffering: skin and tissue loss, brain damage and eventual death aren`t exactly positive consequences. Try telling that to an addict. Nothing for him or her is scarier than running out of that supply.