What krokodil is, in addition to a British metal band with a singer who scream-croaks like an emphysemic orc, is a cheap opioid derivative of codeine. It's basically a heroin knockoff for people who find heroin too aristocratic and highbrow. Like heroin, it can be shot up via syringe. It can also be cooked up by amateurs, like meth. But unlike either of those (usually, at least), krokodil involves a rather haphazard DIY production process that often leaves sizable doses of caustic materials like gasoline, oil, alcohol, or paint thinner in the drug itself. And most doctors are generally in agreement that none of the above should ever be injected into one's veins, unless one is either a lawnmower or a landfill. The results, and I'm showing you one of the least-horrific examples here, can leave you winding up with a little problem like this (WARNING: That link leads to some pretty gross shit. If you do click it, you might not want to scroll down, because it gets much, MUCH worse).
The name "krokodil" comes from the fact that users of this drug frequently develop scaly, reptilian skin, and that's the best-case scenario. It was developed in its modern form by desperate Russian addicts who discovered that all they needed were some over-the-counter codeine pills and some random kitchen products to make it, and there's a reason why it's been referred to as "the drug that eats junkies." And no, I'm not going to elaborate on that time a woman shot it up into her genitals. I'd feel terrible about sounding like I'm exaggerating wildly on a topic like this, so let's let Dr. Abhin Singla, an internist and addiction specialist at the Joliet, Illinois, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, go ahead and do that for us:
"It's a zombie drug -- it literally kills you from the inside out. If you want [a] way to die, this is a way to die."
TimeThe fact that it originated in Russia is the least-shocking part about this drug.
The thing is, though, that's not hyperbole. It is a goddamn zombie drug. Once it's in your system, blood vessels start to pop and surrounding tissue can necrotize until your flesh starts falling off. The average user is estimated to live about two years, which actually sounds pretty conservative, considering that it makes leprosy look like a mild case of bacne. There was a brief scare last year when the "Look out! Sharks!" sensationalist media tried to get everyone riled up about an impending krokodil epidemic in places like Arizona and Texas, but it turned out to be a typically false alarm. This just goes to show that drug addicts can access the Internet just like everyone else, and like every other citizen in America, they weren't so anxious to have their faces melt off just to get high. At least until we see a celebrity do it first.
E. Reid Ross also explores the mortal threat of riding mowers over at Man Cave Daily. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.
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