Krokodil is a new designer drug that quickly spread across Europe, but reached epidemic proportions by the time it got to Russia, wreaking havoc on those who inject the drug and develop a krokodil addiction. More and more patients are arriving in Russian drug rehab centers in search of treatment for krokodil addiction. Roughly translated, krokodil means “crocodile,” and reportedly contains a mixture of codeine and chemicals like paint thinner and gasoline.
Why is it called “crocodile”? Because of how it affects the user. Patients report that their skin has a greenish tint and develops a rough texture akin to that of a crocodile. It’s not a purely cosmetic effect; blood vessels often burst below the surface of the skin, killing the tissue around it – this can lead to amputation if not caught and treated in time. Even when this doesn’t happen, serious health problems like meningitis, pneumonia, ruptured arteries and blood poisoning can occur.
Why would anyone take this drug, given these horrible effects? The high. Because its main ingredient is codeine, it can be extremely strong. Combining it with ingredients like hydrochloric acid, paint thinner, iodine and gasoline only increases that effect, creating a high that lasts for more than an hour and a half. Addicts create the drug by cooking it in their own homes after procuring pills.
According to recent reports, it is estimated that more than 1.2 million people in Russia abuse the drug by injecting it directly into their veins. In the past two years, krokodil has been seized in larger and larger amounts; current seizures are 23 times as large as they were in the beginning, according to Viktor Ivanov, the head of the Federal Drug Control Service. More than 65 million hits of the drug were seized between January and March of this year.
Though krokodil addiction is new to Russia, drug addiction isn’t. The problem has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Russians and cost the country a huge amount of money. The Russian government has been struggling to come up with an effective solution that will provide addicts with the drug treatment they need and drug dealers with a punishment that is significant enough to serve as a deterrent and example to others. What do you think is a good way to deal with the epidemic of krokodil addiction in Russia?