The Curious Case of Junk That Eats Junkies: Flesh-rotting drug “krokodil” grips Russia
Romero himself couldn't make this shit up. But after reading about the
horrors of the newly popular Russian street drug known as krokodil (see: the Independent's June 22 article "Krokodil: The Drug That Eats Junkies"),
one has to wonder when this nightmare smack will find its way into the
plot of a zombie flick. Imagine the following scene, if you will.
the Junkie cooks up a fix. His dealer is a sneaky fellow who always
seems to have the good stuff. "Try the ‘crocodile,' " he says. Dmitry
never cared what his horse was called, so long as he could ride it. The
menacing opening lick of "Gimme Shelter" slowly fills the dingy basement
room as the spoon comes to a boil. He loads it, shoots it, and moments
later, euphoria streams through his veins. But the poison is in his
blood now -- it's only a matter of time before his arm starts to blacken
and rot, as the gangrene sets in. It doesn't matter; as long as he can
get another hit ...
like a craptastic scare tactic from some DARE class, right? "Sure, pal,
a drug that eats your flesh." But we assure you, readers, this is very
Krokodil (or "crocodile") is desomorphine,
a synthetic opiate first brewed up here in the US of A. in 1932, and a
scourge that's currently ravaging Russia. Essentially, desomorphine is a
sedative and analgesic that acts much faster than morphine. But this
stuff is nasty: "to produce krokodil ... addicts mix it with ingredients
including gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red
phosphorous, which they scrape from the striking pads on matchboxes," Time tells us.
The poisons cause the flesh to turn scaly -- hence, "crocodile" -- and
should a user miss the vein, they are marked with swells, blisters and
boils. The Independent reports: "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." The life expectancy of a
full-blown, hardcore krokodil addict is one year.
would ANYONE get into this stuff, you may ask yourself. In Russia,
krokodil is cheaper, stronger, and easier to get ahold of than regular
heroin -- thanks to a major drug-enforcement crackdown, and the fact
that the base ingredients of krokodil (like codeine) are readily
available in pharmacies.
heroin problems are staggering: according to unofficial sources, there
are some two million users -- more than any other country -- and the
drug causes some 30,000 deaths per year. The major source of smack in
Russia comes from its neighbor, the heroin heavyweight champion, Afghanistan.
But as efforts from law enforcement seek to stifle the flow of heroin
in the country, users have sought out cheaper and more readily available
alternatives -- and so the krokodil epidemic was born.
And though the drug is more potent, the high is fleeting -- it only lasts for around 90 minutes. The Independent notes: "Given that the "cooking" process takes at least half an hour, being a krokodil addict is basically a full-time job."
this terrifying drug has not yet made its presence market here in the
US, it's hard to ignore the dangers of a substance you can make in your
bathtub that has the potential to create real-life zombies -- not
flesh-hungry brain eaters, but lifeless, decomposing empty vessels
possessed by a singular desire. For now, we can be thankful that the
only zombie potion currently being brewed in the States is our beloved