Whatever comes to mind: Drug users turn to Krokodil

Whatever Comes To MindBy George Flynn | Opinions Editor

Growing up in a small town, I remember every year from elementary school to high school, there was a week dedicated to drug free and awareness week. The school gave out red ribbons to the students who wanted to show their freedom from drug addiction.

Many people in life get addicted to drugs, often times at a young age, and it continues to be a huge issue in our world. However, I always reassured myself that drugs could not get any worse. Alas, I was proven wrong.

I was told of a flesh eating drug that came from Russia which people inject, similar to heroin. Upon hearing this, I was confused. Why would something this catastrophic be invented? Two years later, it seems that the drug has made its way from Russia to the states.

According to an article written by Andrew Berry in the International Business Times, the drug is made of many different substances.

“Krokodil is a synthetic opiate made from a mixture of codeine, iodine and toxins such as gasoline, industrial cleaning oil, lighter fluid and paint thinner,” Berry said.

These ingredients have created a very dangerous and terrifying drug that physically eats and kills its victims.

According to the same article, Krokodil is named after the Russian word for “crocodile,” because it gives the skin a scaly texture. The scaly reptile-like skin forces many drug users to amputate limbs due to the death of skin tissue after the flesh has rotted off.

This drug which has atrocious side effects, has already taken lives in different places in the world, including the U.S.. According to the same article, it has taken three lives in Oklahoma. With all of these side effects, it brings up a lot of questions.

One question being who and why would people decide to inject this drug when the effects are volatile and deadly?

According to the Berry article a lot of the drug deals that are occurring in New York are happening in night clubs. Sal Ramirez, a man who saw the drug in Kazakhstan and in New York witnessed these occurrences. “Ramirez [also] said a dealer approached him directly at Westway, another venue in the Meatpacking District [in New York], trying to sell him krokodil and ‘clean syringes’ in the bathroom.” This drug appeals to the crowd that tends to go out in night clubs.

Ramirez gives a sad explanation for why the drug users are injecting these drugs.

“‘What people aren’t really that aware of is the fact that it’s super addictive. If more people knew that the reason it’s called krokodil is because of the effect it has on you, I think they wouldn’t be using it.’” Ramirez said.

The drug is extremely addictive. According to an article published in The Verge by Adrianne Jeffries, the drug is more addictive than most. “It is 10 times as potent as morphine and lasts half as long, which makes it extremely addictive.”

The drug is quite inexpensive, which can also play a large role in why people happen to indulge in it.

According to Jeffries article, the recipe to make Krokodil is online. The Verge article cites the director of Oklahoma Poison Control Center, Dr. William Banner.

“It’s the poor man’s drug,” Banner said.  According to Banner, drug users run out of money, so they make the drug and get high. After that, they need more and can’t stop.

All these different reasons shed light on why someone would enter this difficult situation. It is sad to think that someone could be so desperate and addicted to resort to a drug which will leave the user defaced or worse, dead.

A CBSNews article by Michelle Castillo reports that about 1 million people in Russia are abusing it. Imagining these numbers moving from Russia to America is a scary thought. I can only hope that those same drug free red ribbons I, along with my classmates, still proudly wear will act as a defense against this dangerous and addicting phenomenon.

George Flynn is a senior English major and can be reached at flynng@duq.edu.