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Warren Ellis

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Krokodil [Jun. 22nd, 2011|02:00 pm]
Warren Ellis

You’ve got to love the names of 21st Century drugs, if nothing else.  Allow me to introduce you to krokodil:

It is a drug for the poor, and its effects are horrific. It was given its reptilian name because its poisonous ingredients quickly turn the skin scaly. Worse follows. Oleg and Sasha have not been using for long, but Oleg has rotting sores on the back of his neck.

Photographs of late-stage krokodil addicts are disturbing in the extreme. Flesh goes grey and peels away to leave bones exposed. People literally rot to death.

It’s desomorphine, a lab synthetic that cooks out of codeine-based headache tablets with iodine and lighter fluid.  Krokodil addicts stink of iodine.  Before they start to stink of rotting flesh.

With heroin withdrawal, the main symptoms last for five to 10 days. After that there is still a big danger of relapse but the physical pain will be gone. With krokodil, the pain can last up to a month, and it’s unbearable.

Codeine-based headache pills are, of course, sold over the counter in pharmacies, and the signature of abuse isn’t as easy to spot as, say, asking for a crate of cough medicine.  At least until some poor scaly lizard-bastard rocks up stinking of iodine.  Controls are hopeless, and, in any case, how many people are really going to stand there in front of a bunch of reptile junkies and say, no, I’m not going to sell you these pills because you’re going to cook them into a death juice called krokodil for fuck’s sake?

“Addicts are being sold drugs by normal Russian women working in pharmacies, who know exactly what they’ll be used for,” said Yevgeny Roizman, an anti-drugs activist who was one of the first to talk publicly about the krokodil issue earlier this year. “Selling them to boys the same age as their own sons. Russians are killing Russians.”

(Automatically crossposted from warrenellis.com. Feel free to comment here or at my message board Whitechapel. If anything in this post looks weird, it's because LJ is run on steampipes and rubber bands -- please click through to the main site.)

[User Picture]From: shadowofsummer
2011-06-22 09:18 pm (UTC)
The worst thing about this story is that now I have Jimmy Nail's 'Crocodile Shoes' running through my head.
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[User Picture]From: st_rev
2011-06-22 10:30 pm (UTC)
Two million addicts and thirty thousand deaths from heroin a year? That's...not really a very high mortality rate, all things considered.
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From: fenmere
2011-06-23 12:31 am (UTC)
Uh, that's the statistics for heroine, not krokodil, as evidenced by this quote from the article:

"In other more isolated regions of Russia, where heroin is more expensive and people are poorer, the problem is worse. People become full-time krokodil addicts, giving them a life expectancy of less than a year."
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[User Picture]From: st_rev
2011-06-23 12:39 am (UTC)
Yes, I know, I was looking at stuff like
Russia has more heroin users than any other country in the world – up to two million, according to unofficial estimates. For most, their lot is a life of crime, stints in prison, probable contraction of HIV and hepatitis C, and an early death.
A 1.5% excess mortality rate doesn't really back up that scenario.
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From: fenmere
2011-06-23 03:58 am (UTC)
Ah, indeed.
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From: dcart
2011-06-22 11:11 pm (UTC)
It's rather like Cherie Priest's "sap" come to life or something.
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[User Picture]From: charlycrash
2011-06-23 11:37 am (UTC)
I thought of Chris Morris' "Cake".
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[User Picture]From: hawkward
2011-06-23 11:51 am (UTC)
Someone must've read this and then posted to FB, where I went first before LJ, so yes. I can say that I was familiar with krokodil before you posted it. By about ten minutes.

And yes, I had to go look up photos of its effects. Suddenly I don't want bacon ever again.
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