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June 22, 2011 9:48 AM   Subscribe

A heroin substitute called "Krokodil" is having destructive effects on Russia's active user population.

Made at home from under the counter coedine pills and household items, those that cannot afford heroin are taking their addictions to the next level with "injecting poison directly into their flesh". Cheaper than heroin and easier to get a hold of, it was given its reptilian name beacuse its ingredients "quickly turn the skin scaly". It is said to give a shorter high, produce awful smells, put them through a potential withdrawal phase much longer than that of heroin, and give full-time addicts "a lifespan of less than a year".
posted by rodmandirect (108 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone read Boneshaker? This is how the zombie invasion starts.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:51 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus.
posted by DonnyMac at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2011


There are some repulsive pictures of the effects of this stuff floating around. I'm sure someone will come along soon and post them. Just telling you now: you don't want to look.
posted by neroli at 9:56 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ich bin Schnappi, das kleine krokodil
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


But she's so CUTE!
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn it, millipedes!
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was considering posting this yesterday. There are some terrifying purported images of Krokodil addicts floating around. If even 10% are real then pray for humanity. Also:
Russia has more heroin users than any other country in the world – up to two million, according to unofficial estimates.

[Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia's Drug Control Agency] estimates that overall, around 5 per cent of Russian drug users are on krokodil and other home-made drugs, which works out at about 100,000 people.
The zombie horde is already here, we just didn't notice.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2011


"a lifespan of less than a year".

Given how nasty this stuff is, I'd wonder if that might be the upside.
posted by Saydur at 10:05 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Beyond horrifying.
posted by naju at 10:06 AM on June 22, 2011


Please believe neroli. Don't go searching for those pictures, especially if you're eating.

Going to vomit now.
posted by Malice at 10:08 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know something's bad when using heroin is the preferred alternative.
posted by item at 10:12 AM on June 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


Ruff, saw the pix last night, incredible, mind blowing. Amazing someone would try it. Literal suicide by the worst possible way.
posted by Max Power at 10:12 AM on June 22, 2011


So...Peter Watts is a Krokodil user?

/ blearghhhlfffff * splutter *
posted by everichon at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2011


Just so everyone knows, I had nothing to do with this.
posted by Gator at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


Are the side effects because commercial codeine is cut with (Tylenol) that is itself bad or your liver in case you overdo it?
posted by stratastar at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2011


I'm baffled how this got invented. "Hey guys, I'm bored. Let's mix some stuff up and inject it!"
posted by Ad hominem at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drug addiction often follows the first dose. Desomorphine users suffer from an acute deterioration in their general health, including a weakened immune system and failing liver. Their circulation is so effected that their limbs gradually wither and die. Non-healing ulcers appear on the body and a person literally rots alive. Veins located near the injection sites “burn up.”

I don't doubt this is a real problem but honestly most of this seems like the usual "super drug" hysteria bullshit. Desomorphine has been around since the '30s, it's powerful but short-acting. A strong drug that leaves you strung out twice as much is obviously bad but not really anything special in the opiate spectrum. The problems described don't seem like anything particular about the drug: it is about the availability of cheap codeine tablets, the obvious dangers of amateurs cooking chemicals with household products (adulterants and bad reaction products), and the things that are inevitably going to happen when desperate poor people are addicted to intravenous drugs. I don't buy that anything is described here you couldn't find in any bottom-of-the-barrel shooting gallery in any major city. All this has been standard-issue horribleness since the hypodermic syringe made it to the consumer-level technology level.
posted by nanojath at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2011 [15 favorites]


Same as modern speed, probably; people figure out the headache pills have an opiate in them, and someone with at least rudimentary knowledge of chemistry figures out a way of making the drug's effects more potent, just like people figured out how to turn pseudoephedrine decongestants into crystal meth.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:20 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


So Krokodil makes meth look like a strong cup of espresso, but for some reason it's harder to get Sudafed here than it is to get codeine there. Hmmm.
posted by ambrosia at 10:20 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Breaking Bad looks so clean.
posted by clavdivs at 10:21 AM on June 22, 2011


I'll stick to abusing prescription drugs, thank you very much.

p.s. anyone got any links to reputable online pharmacies that don't require a valid prescription? I'm getting low on Vicodin.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:23 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


junkies gonna junk
posted by LogicalDash at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2011


It's spelled "codeine". And you can kiss your Tylenol 3 and general cough syrups goodbye now, too.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only for people with medical gore trained stomachs. Warning, gory visuals ahead. Video [NSFL] of tianeptine abuse effects, which seem similar to the real horror [NSFL] of krokodil use. Time mag article on krokodil. In Russian with gory pics [NSFL]. Discussion on Zoklet about krokodil [no pics, just links].

It was interesting to learn that Russia has the world's most heroin junkies, 2.5 million, a side effect of the CIA's creating the heroin biz in Afghanistan to bring down the Russian army, A War On Drugs.
posted by nickyskye at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


Ad hominem : I'm baffled how this got invented. "Hey guys, I'm bored. Let's mix some stuff up and inject it!"

The same way we had mass methanol and ethylene glycol poisonings among casual drinkers in the US in the 1930s; The same way we had paraquat poisonings among potheads in the 1970s; The same way we had 20-somethings coming down with MPTP-induced Parkinsons in the 1980s; The same reason young kids spin in circles and hold their breath untill they pass out, the same reason teens die of huffing the "wrong" solvents, the same reason we can't buy a damned pack of Sudafed without getting the 3rd degree.

All animals - Though humans in particular - Seek out intoxicants. Society can either find a way to permit the use of reasonably safe ones, or suffer the inevitable tragedy when people eventually stumble across poison disguised as a drug.
posted by pla at 10:30 AM on June 22, 2011 [38 favorites]



I'm baffled how this got invented. "Hey guys, I'm bored. Let's mix some stuff up and inject it!"


That's pretty much what human beings are really good at: experimenting with the world around them. It makes us successful in aggregate, even as it kills off the unlucky ones.
posted by davejay at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2011


This is were Mr. White is the trope, yo.
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are the side effects because commercial codeine is cut with (Tylenol) that is itself bad or your liver in case you overdo it?

It's the chemicals, they're shooting this junk into their bodies, it wastes everything kidneys, liver, it's poison that happens to get you high.

"If you miss the vein, that's an abscess straight away," says Sasha. Essentially, they are injecting poison directly into their flesh.
posted by Max Power at 10:36 AM on June 22, 2011


The conversation in the comments seems centered around the pros and cons of legalizing hard drugs. But heroin being legal wouldn't reduce its negative effects on the mind and body. This stuff would still be just as dangerous. Can a believer help me understand this?
posted by litnerd at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2011


When I was a child, I said I would never, ever use drugs. Then, as a young adult, I said I would never, ever use specific type of drugs on a certain list because they were too scary. Throughout my adult years, for better or for worse, I blew through that list eventually. But science, apparently, have decided that I should have some stuff on that list. Because -- and I say this as stupid fan of any and all highs I have tried -- fuck no. This is the scariest shit I have heard in a long time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:38 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


litnerd, you do realize that this isn't heroin that's rotting these poor soul's flesh, right?
posted by item at 10:38 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Litnerd, the idea is generally that the high prices of drugs are directly due to their illegality. Legalize them, the price comes down and users don't have to resort to such extreme measures for a high. It looks like the appeal of this particular drug is pretty much solely its very low cost and wide availability.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:40 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


item:

Yes, I do realize that. The arguments are that if heroin were legal, they wouldn't have to turn to this other stuff. Because heroin would be cheaper, or something like that...
posted by litnerd at 10:41 AM on June 22, 2011


But heroin being legal wouldn't reduce its negative effects on the mind and body. This stuff would still be just as dangerous. Can a believer help me understand this?

The idea between legalization of so-called "hard drugs" like heroin is the principle of harm reduction. The idea is that this stuff would actually not be just as dangerous, because decriminalization would reduce problems like dangerous adulterants, diseases caused by reused needles, etc. A lot of heroin's negative effects on the mind and body could be mitigated by legalization; you'd still have junkies, but they'd be healthier, hopefully better functioning junkies.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, with legality standardization would bring cleaner, safer drugs. No crazy shit cut into your supply.
posted by item at 10:43 AM on June 22, 2011


or what infinitywaltz said.
posted by item at 10:44 AM on June 22, 2011


Right, like what restless_nomad said. But heroin itself is still a powerfully destructive drug, right? No matter how much it costs, it's still going to kill people, reduce them to useless members, of society, etc. Or is this just my high school Health class propaganda talking?
posted by litnerd at 10:44 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's propaganda, litnerd. Portugal.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:46 AM on June 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


But heroin itself is still a powerfully destructive drug, right? No matter how much it costs, it's still going to kill people, reduce them to useless members, of society, etc. Or is this just my high school Health class propaganda talking?

I would argue that it's a little of both. It's hardly good for you, but I think that if drug addicts had access to a reliable supply of inexpensive heroin of consistent quality (alongside sterile needles and other necessary supplies) it would be far, far less destructive.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:47 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


But if a person has a supply of heroin that is easily available and not full of crap additives, they can use it daily and still possibly be a healthy, functioning member of society until they tire of using it. Not every addict will take this path, but not every drinker becomes a raging alcoholic either.

Heroin is obviously more extreme, but the thought is that if you made it easier for users to manage, they'd be able to manage.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Could we please not turn this thread into another argument about whether certain hard drugs should be legalized, we already had one. Merci beaucoup.
posted by Melismata at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2011


The problem with people getting all handwringy about the negative effects of stuff like Ecstasy (or even heroin) is that when really fucking dangerous stuff comes out, the reaction is "oh, that's just bullshit they cooked up to scare us".
posted by dunkadunc at 10:49 AM on June 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


experimenting with the world around them. It makes us successful in aggregate, even as it kills off the unlucky ones.

True, the first guy to try this particular concoction and survive, I doubt they nailed it the firt time out of the gate, is either blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:49 AM on June 22, 2011


In Russia, heroin does you
posted by Renoroc at 10:57 AM on June 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Zoklet thread suggests that a lot of the problems with krokodil addiction stem from poor synthesis and unsanitary conditions. It's kind of like gin; if you drink badly made bathtub gin, you might go blind, but you won't if you have a couple of Bombay martinis.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:57 AM on June 22, 2011


litnerd: Heroin on the NHS
posted by daksya at 11:00 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talking about legalizing certain hard drugs seems appropriate for this thread, Melismata.
posted by Pendragon at 11:08 AM on June 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


litnerd, I think that few if any proponents of ending criminal sanction on drugs are arguing that people wouldn't continue to ruin their lives and health with addiction to relatively inexpensive, clean, legal drugs. What we argue is that the war on drugs fails to prevent or significantly reduce the incidence of addiction to drugs while adding financial desperation (via the massive inflation of drug costs), unreliable and unsafe drug supplies, and the necessity of entering a criminal lifestyle and consorting with other, often hostile and dangerous criminals, to gain access to drugs - all of which greatly increase the destructiveness of addiction, as well as adding a population of the kind of people these sorts of pressures create (financially desperate criminals) and massively enriching a criminal enterprise to the burdens of addiction on society.

Nobody is arguing that being an alcoholic is a good thing. But would the alcoholic be better off if a bottle of the cheapest booze cost fifty dollars, and was maybe adulterated with methanol, maybe not, might be 40 or 80 or 150 proof, no way to tell? If hiding their use at any cost was their main defense against being imprisoned, would that make them more or less likely to seek help?

Consider the enigma of functional addicts like William Halstead. Why was he able to be an extremely functional member of society despite serious, lifelong cocaine and opiate addiction? The very obvious answer is that it is because he had reliable access to medical grade drugs and the knowledge to use them in the safest manner possible. Addiction will always be a problem, but there are very strong arguments that drug prohibition has only made the problems worse for both addicts and society.
posted by nanojath at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


But heroin itself is still a powerfully destructive drug, right?

No, not necessarily. Take away the unknown adulterants and dirty needles etc., and it is quite manageable for some people on a long-term basis. Indeed, it's arguable that a lot of people wouldn't bother using heroin if they could get morphine or opium easily. Heroin is a refined and concentrated form of opium, which also means it's less bulky and thus easier to smuggle and dilute - important considerations for anyone involved in a criminal enterprise.

Certainly, some people would still use it even if milder alternatives were available, just as some alcoholic drink their lives away with cheap whisky because it provides more bang for the buck than wine or beer. But to get back to the FPP, look at what these people will do if there's nothing else available. I'd rather have the regulated heroin on sale than have people doing this shit.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


The people who said the photos were NSFL were NOT LYING. holy moly, I was expecting to see some extra-gross eczema type stuff not flesh 'n' tendons and OMG HIT THE BACK BUTTON I DON"T WANT TO SEE MORE BEFORE THE REST OF THE IMAGE LOADS!!!!
posted by vespabelle at 11:16 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


litnerd,

The main argument for the legalization and regulation of -all drugs- is that drug abuse is a public health problem and not a criminal problem. Individuals who abuse drugs need help, not incarceration (This sentence deserves to be repeated until it sinks in. If we treated alcoholics with the same contempt and severity as heroin addicts, I'm willing to bet that the chances of alcoholics recovering from their addiction would be very slim).

Never in my right mind would I try heroin, unless:

1. I was not in my right mind, in which case I'd need psychiatric help.
2. I wasn't educated properly about how devastating it is, which would point to failed drug education policies.
3. My parents were addicts who were not shown the proper medical attention and my exposure to their addiction normalized heroin usage for me (this works for alcohol as well).

It really doesn't make sense why addicts should be thrown in prison. It's always helpful to replace the image of an addict with an alcoholic, and imagine sentencing an alcoholic to 10 years in prison for getting "too drunk".

Yes, heroin is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs, but criminalizing has not helped reduce usage levels at all. In fact, according to at least one source, they've at least doubled since the 80's. It's also quite possible that the current prison system in the US is creating drug addicts, rather than reducing them.

Recently, it seems the world has gotten more vocal about the deplorable situation we have placed ourselves in.
posted by lemuring at 11:19 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, not necessarily. Take away the unknown adulterants and dirty needles etc., and it is quite manageable for some people on a long-term basis.

Honest question: Have you ever known a junkie?

It's not pretty.

Lots of things are manageable. If you couldn't speak for the rest of your life, that would be manageable. If you had to walk in chains for the rest of your life, that would be manageable.

I think of a bright young academic I knew, and his wet and desperate eyes right before a fix, and his big gleeful blank eyes right after one, and where he's living and what he's doing now, and though I am also not fond of adulterants and dirty needles, I hate to think of what should happen to other smart, curious adolescents with a few dollars if regulated heroin were on sale at your A&P.

Heroin is a dirty, dirty drug, and (speaking from extensive second-hand anecdotal knowledge) you have to often go to awful places and talk to scary people to get it, people who will occasionally hold out on you to keep you hooked. For many people -- for me, when I was 16 -- that is an effective detterent.
posted by gimpel at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Melismata, je suis tres desole. Je missed your comment before posting.
posted by lemuring at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2011


The main argument for the legalization and regulation of -all drugs- is that drug abuse is a public health problem and not a criminal problem.

That's a reasonable argument, except for the fact that people's need for drugs drives them to commit criminal acts. The problem is that the criminal addicts need to go to hospitals, not jails, and that is something the US desperately needs to work on.
posted by Melismata at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2011


That's a reasonable argument, except for the fact that people's need for drugs drives them to commit criminal acts

The high cost of drugs leads to acquisitive crimes. Read the article I linked to.
posted by daksya at 11:29 AM on June 22, 2011


It's also worth pointing out that if you've seen any of the prison documentaries that regularly air on cable, you know that heroin is as easy to obtain inside prison as outside, if not easier. I don't think that's confined to U.S. prisons either. Imprisoning junkies does not cure them.
posted by chaff at 11:29 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm for legalization for the all the reasons given.

I would never,ever say that heroin is a good thing. But here's an interesting fact: heroin (pure, unadulterated, pharmaceutical-grade heroin) is actually, long-term, a better drug than most from a physical standpoint. It doesn't destroy your brain or your lungs or your liver. If (and that's a very big if, I know) it were prescribed and monitored closely, a heroin addict could be a functioning member of society who lived to a ripe old age.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:45 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Russia, heroin does you in
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:52 AM on June 22, 2011


It doesn't destroy your brain or your lungs or your liver. If (and that's a very big if, I know) it were prescribed and monitored closely, a heroin addict could be a functioning member of society who lived to a ripe old age.

That 'could be' requires none of the entailments of functioning with society ever obstructing heroin, ever.

BTW not arguing for imprisonment of any addicts -- personally am (notionally, broadly) for safe injection centers, at which are offered free intensive drug counseling, the same kind which would become mandatory in drug sentences, which would take place in hospitals and church basements, not prisons.
posted by gimpel at 11:53 AM on June 22, 2011


References please, Benny Andajetz?
posted by Melismata at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2011


Burroughs? The man pushed more junk than a flea market.
posted by adipocere at 11:56 AM on June 22, 2011


References please, Benny Andajetz?

It was something I learned in college. I can't find a direct cite, but here's a page from NIH.

They list the long-term effects of heroin as:
Addiction
Infectious diseases, for example, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C
Collapsed veins
Bacterial infections
Abscesses
Infection of heart lining and valves
Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems

Except for the actual addiction, most of the blame for the rest are blamed on adulterants, poor hygiene, and neglected health of junkies.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:05 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


That 'could be' requires none of the entailments of functioning with society ever obstructing heroin, ever.

gimpel, I am really, really not arguing that addiction would be just peachy keen if drugs were legal. I come out of massive apparently hereditary predisposition to alcohol dependency and I know whereof I speak. But functional addiction is a real thing as the link I posted in my earlier response demonstrates. Nobody is arguing that all or even most addicts wouldn't function poorly in society if drugs were legal (shit, I ran into a character who was mugging people to buy mouthwash once upon a time).

There is a lot of territory between the current legal status quo and demanding pure five dollar a hit heroin be available at Wal-Mart. It would be nice if as a society we could at least agree to start picking some of the low-hanging fruit like transitioning dollars from prosecuting and jailing users to expanding access to treatment.
posted by nanojath at 12:12 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy shit did anybody read the article(NSFL) linked above?
The high from this home-cooked, desomorphine-based cocktail of gasoline, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorous scraped from matchboxes and other toxic miscellany lasts an hour.
If that's true, it's no fucking wonder it rots you. I'm honestly surprised people last even a year on that.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:21 PM on June 22, 2011


The worst thing about heroin and other opiates (from the standpoint of one who has enjoyed drugs in the past, as have many of you, I'm sure) is that after a while, you no longer get high from the drug; you just need it to stay "normal." And you can be a well-functioning human being and a heroin addict, but it is not a path anyone should choose. And yes, it can lead, in places like
Russia, to the most horrific of results.

Also, codeine is not injected, even as a last resort, by junkies, so I'm not surprised that mixing it up with a bunch of poison helps much.
posted by kozad at 12:26 PM on June 22, 2011


This is amazing grotesque shit. Beast of the web.
posted by fuq at 12:27 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If that's true, it's no fucking wonder it rots you. I'm honestly surprised people last even a year on that.

Yeah, the most gruesome parts, the necrosis, is cause by insoluble particles getting lodged in the capillaries and cutting off blood flow. This is not even like drinking bathtub gin, this is like drinking bathtub gin with ground glass in it.

I watched the video last time it was on reddit. You might want to skip the video if you are squeamish.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:30 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


gimpel : Honest question: Have you ever known a junkie?

Better question - Have you ever known an addict with access to USP-grade opiates?

I have.

They may (or may not!) do stupid things to get their fix, but you'd never even know they use, otherwise.
posted by pla at 12:39 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


And you can be a well-functioning human being and a heroin addict, but it is not a path anyone should choose.

That word "should" right there is a dangerous one. The way we've currently chosen, as a society, to go about that "should" is by locking people up for ungodly lengths of time, by creating a huge criminal underclass, by undermining respect for the law, and by creating an environment in which people do things like inject horrific poisons into their veins.

"Should", my ass. It's a bad idea to get addicted to heroin. It's a far worse idea to do what we've done over the last 40 years trying to prevent it from happening.

If people want to use drugs, let them. The effects won't be nearly as bad as what we've got now.
posted by Justinian at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The United Kingdom's National Health Service has and experimental program to prescribed heroin to addicts and it seems to be an unqualified success.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 12:52 PM on June 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Ugggh "has an ... to prescribe heroin to addicts"
posted by elektrotechnicus at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2011


Elektrotechnicus, awesome link! It should really be the model for helping heroin addicts, rather than a last resort as it is now. Here's hoping the UK implements it nationally!

At least this thread will.... end on a high note.
posted by lemuring at 1:27 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, like nanojath said, this has all the makings of a "super drug" media story. The same elements are there that were in the initial meth hysteria. Not that some users aren't suffering and getting bad batches, but the same pattern is there.

The high from this home-cooked, desomorphine-based cocktail of gasoline, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorous scraped from matchboxes and other toxic miscellany lasts an hour.

If that's true, it's no fucking wonder it rots you. I'm honestly surprised people last even a year on that.


Again, a lot of these chemicals are the exact same ones used in meth synthesis from pseudoephedrine. We hear the same kind of horror stories around that story:

"Users are injecting battery acid and drain cleaner into their veins!"

What's really scary about all of this is not the drug itself, it's that it points to a huge lack of science and chemistry knowledge in our public and community.

The main compounds in battery acid (sulfuric acid) and drain cleaner (lye, sodium hydroxide) are both very very common acids and bases, similar to hydrochloric acid, used in a variety of industrial and even food processing situations. Chances are, if you've eaten processed food at all in the past day, you've had something that at one point used one of these compounds in its manufacture. In the context of drug labs, they're usually used to raise/lower the ph level in the final stages of the synthesis to precipitate out the desired compound.

Saying these users are injecting gasoline or HC is like saying water drinkers are ingesting an explosive gas, hydrogen. It ignores that when elements undergo a reaction, their properties may change.

Now, are the methods these addicts using good and leading to clean results? No, most likely they're getting all kinds of leftover compounds and contaminates in their product. But the solution to that is to make social services and clean and regulated products available to them.

posted by formless at 1:29 PM on June 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Doh, missing bold tag there.
posted by formless at 1:29 PM on June 22, 2011


Truly horrific stuff. And fucking sad.

Have you ever known a junkie?

Well, I've been a junkie. I does super suck. Not gonna lie. However, most of the truly horrible things about it stem from the illegality/difficulty obtaining it; the expense, the shit it's cut with. I had some skin infections when I did it and I only snorted it. I think the bacteria was in the dope and got directly into my body through my nose. Probably staph from the dirty hands of the dirty people who were processing it and packing it.

My 84 year old grandmother is basically a functioning dope addict. She takes oxycontin for chronic pain and has gotten to the point where the pills don't help her pain, but she has to take them anyway just to keep from feeling ill. She has used Suboxone (just like I did) to get off the oxy but wound up back on it when nothing else would help with her pain. Fortunately for her, all of her drug purchases have been legal and reasonably priced and sanctioned by a physician.

I can imagine what would drive a person to use this krokodil shit. It's difficult to describe the desperate need for a fix that a dope-sick person feels to someone who's never been there. However, it seems like you'd be better off just blowing your brains out than shooting krokodil. Or saving up enough for one really big last hit of heroin. I'll say it again: fucking sad. There should be better options than these.
posted by apis mellifera at 1:30 PM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now, are the methods these addicts using good and leading to clean results? No, most likely they're getting all kinds of leftover compounds and contaminates in their product. But the solution to that is to make social services and clean and regulated products available to them.

I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I'm just saying that intravenously injecting any compound synthesized as described by the TFA—using reagents like gasoline and red phosphorus, no less—is extremely dangerous and I can believe that the images linked above are legitimate photos of end-stage addicts.

That said, this would all be a non-issue if the Russian government took a more empathetic stance on heroin addiction and treatment. So we're agreeing on all counts, AND I never said that I thought that kids were just mixing it all together and shooting it.

Because saying that, after reading all of the articles, would be stupid.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:38 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


All animals - Though humans in particular - Seek out intoxicants.

I don't see the birds in my yard seeking anything but enough food to live to the end of another day (including enough energy to sing loudly outside bedroom windows at 4 a.m.).
posted by aught at 1:40 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Could we please not turn this thread into another argument about whether certain hard drugs should be legalized, we already had one. Merci beaucoup.

We wouldn't have to if people would just pull their heads out of their asses already and move to legalize. Until that point, we'll have to keep arguing it until people figure it out.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:40 PM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't see the birds in my yard seeking anything but enough food to live to the end of another day (including enough energy to sing loudly outside bedroom windows at 4 a.m.).

As soon as a couple birds find some fermenting berries, I can nearly promise you that more will come.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:48 PM on June 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


We wouldn't have to if people would just pull their heads out of their asses already and move to legalize. Until that point, we'll have to keep arguing it until people figure it out.

You mean, we wouldn't have to if everyone would just agree with your point of view. Gee, thanks.
posted by Melismata at 1:49 PM on June 22, 2011


You mean, we wouldn't have to if everyone would just agree with your point of view. Gee, thanks.

Well, considering the opposing point of view has been murdering and incarcerating millions of people for decades if not centuries, with the only beneficiaries being the prison and police industries, the conclusion is rather obvious. The frustration is understandable, I'm sure.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:56 PM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's not the drug that is killing them, people. Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas and E. Coli and all the other crap they have on their unwashed bodies and equipment are. Gasoline, red phosphorus, and all the other shit that is mixed in are not helping the matters either.
posted by c13 at 1:59 PM on June 22, 2011


aught : I don't see the birds in my yard seeking anything but enough food to live to the end of another day

Funny... Because I do.

I have a half dozen apple trees in my yard. Every spring, the turkeys come by, sometimes as many as 30 of them, and eat the yummy fermented apples that the deer couldn't get (ie, still on the branches). This lasts for about two weeks before they run out of apples.

And if you don't think they get rocked... Well, you'll never laugh so hard as when you see an otherwise perfectly healthy turkey wobble back and forth a bit then fall over backward out of a tree.
posted by pla at 2:01 PM on June 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


Honest question: Have you ever known a junkie? It's not pretty.

Yes. I've lived with current and ex-junkies and have put people through cold turkey and other less drastic forms of rehab. Although I have never been into the drug myself, I know a great deal about it.

I think of a bright young academic I knew [...] I hate to think of what should happen to other smart, curious adolescents with a few dollars if regulated heroin were on sale at your A&P.


Well, if there wasn't any availability anxiety they'd probably be able to get on with their lives knowing that they could enjoy a fix before bedtime or whatever. Naturally, that won't be the case for some persons, but guess what - if they're that into it, then making it illegal won't deter them anyway. Your approach is based on the idea that if it's too difficult/dangerous to get it, or people don't know where to get it, then they'll never get around to trying it and will be better off as a result. The weight of the evidence is not on your side. You might as well try censorship, to prevent people even knowing it exists in the first place, for all the good that approach is likely to do.

I'm sorry your academic friend went off the rails. I feel sorry for alcoholics and their friends and families too, but I'm not willing to join in with a policy of enforcement that demonstrably does not work. Your friend might not have ended up as a junkie if he didn't have to hang out with criminals in order to get high in his spare time.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:08 PM on June 22, 2011



Pats self on back for not opening video.
posted by notreally at 2:16 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your friend might not have ended up as a junkie if he didn't have to hang out with criminals in order to get high in his spare time.

Are you serious? Have you never heard of genetic disposition to addiction?

I am not suggesting by any means that the way we do things currently is working, and I agree that it hasn't been working for decades now. And I am hopeful that some of these controlled, legal substitutes will genuinely make a difference in people's lives. But to imply that addicts would have better lives if only more drugs were flowing freely into this country makes no sense to me.
posted by Melismata at 2:18 PM on June 22, 2011


You mean, we wouldn't have to if everyone would just agree with your point of view. Gee, thanks.

You were the person who began by demanding that people not talk about this. I understand that you disagree with the issue, but the arguments you've advanced for your position are essentially irrational. It seems not to have occurred to you that addicts commit crimes to get drug money because prohibition is what keeps the cost of their habit so high, the quality so unpredictable, and the risk of confiscation/loss so stressful. Alcoholics and many cigarette smokers are addicted too, but few of them engage in criminal activity because there is no particular need to do so to sustain their habit.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:19 PM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are you serious? Have you never heard of genetic disposition to addiction?

Yes I have, and yes I am serious. Not every addict has a genetic predisposition, and not everyone with a predisposition ends up as the slave of their compulsion. I draw a distinction between junkies (fucked up walking dead people on heroin) and functioning addicts (people who may be regular users but hold down a job or similar responsibilities). I also said that the person in question might not have become a junkie if the stuff were legal. Not would, might.

Kindly leave off with the poutrage. It's possible that I know as much or more about this subject than you and have simply come to a different conclusion from that which you hold.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:25 PM on June 22, 2011


"I think of a bright young academic I knew, and his wet and desperate eyes right before a fix, and his big gleeful blank eyes right after one, and where he's living and what he's doing now, and though I am also not fond of adulterants and dirty needles, I hate to think of what should happen to other smart, curious adolescents with a few dollars if regulated heroin were on sale at your A&P."

I hate to think of what should happen to other smart, curious adolescents with a few shillings if liquor were available at your local Gin Lane.

Heroin sucks as a drug, but the "wet and desperate eyes" shit is pure appeal to emotion rather than actually looking at the epidemiological data and recognizing that these poor anecdotal naifs would be better served by harm reduction than the current prohibition.
posted by klangklangston at 2:27 PM on June 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Addicts in Tver say they never have any problems buying the key ingredient for krokodil – codeine pills, which are sold without prescription. "Once I was trying to buy four packs, and the woman told me they could only sell two to any one person," recalls one, with a laugh. "So I bought two packs, then came back five minutes later and bought another two. Other than that, they never refuse to sell it to us, even though they know what we're going to do with it." The solution, to many, is obvious: ban the sale of codeine tablets, or at least make them prescription-only.

Sure, we could prohibit codeine tablets. Or, you know, treat addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one. EMCDDA reports indicate that drug deaths are lower and drug use in general is lower in countries such as Holland, where addiction is addressed as a public health matter. Prohibition has been a proven, dismal failure.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:29 PM on June 22, 2011


Prohibition has been a proven, dismal failure.

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the anecdotes?
posted by FatherDagon at 2:32 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


But to imply that addicts would have better lives if only more drugs were flowing freely into this country makes no sense to me.

It doesn't to a lot of people. But, from your previous comments about your academic friend, I assume you respect science, academics and research. So how about this:

Portugal's Drug Experience: New Study Confirms Decriminalization Was a Success

The evidence shows that decriminalization did lead to less teen drug use, fewer AIDs cases and HIV infections. There was an increase in adult drug use, but it was inline with nearby countries.

posted by formless at 2:41 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


thsmchnekllsfascists: "Holy shit did anybody read the article(NSFL) linked above?
The high from this home-cooked, desomorphine-based cocktail of gasoline, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorous scraped from matchboxes and other toxic miscellany lasts an hour.
If that's true, it's no fucking wonder it rots you. I'm honestly surprised people last even a year on that.
"

That's the typical "meth is made from battery acid" -- I could say the same kind of shit for making DMT. But that alone doesn't mean it in itself is what it's made of. Now, I wouldn't fucking take this shit, but this is why there's people saying "typical drug hysteria"... It's not like you're literally injecting matches. Well, in poorly made product that isn't properly made, yeah, of course, you kind of are. And that is why it's dangerous, but it's not because it's made of that shit in and of itself. It's because it's done cheaply, unprofessionally, and well... yeah... they use that because they don't have access to the proper things like acetates and all that kind of shit. (I think acetate is the word I'm looking for).
posted by symbioid at 2:46 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I might add that there are ways of going about legalisation. "Buying heroin from the local A&P" is not a very accurate comparison to how it's been handled in other countries with such policies in place - in many cases, addicts have to go to a special clinic to get their fix, which is administered to them by a health care worker. Vending machines dispensing vials of heroin have yet to appear on the horizon in such countries. In addition, the import and export of these drugs is still criminally penalised. It is, in other words, a controlled process that - as others in this thread have pointed out - serves to reduce addiction in particular and use in general, while also drastically slicing through the criminal behaviour which follows prohibition.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:51 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Symbioid:

I know. That's why I followed that comment up with this comment:
I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I'm just saying that intravenously injecting any compound synthesized as described by the TFA—using reagents like gasoline and red phosphorus, no less—is extremely dangerous and I can believe that the images linked above are legitimate photos of end-stage addicts.
I know that kids aren't just mixing all that shit together and shooting it straight, but without proper training and equipment (not to mention a sanitary lab to cook in) there's just no safe way to formulate the active ingredients that isn't going to put you at risk of abscess/infection. There will be left over particulate from the phosphorus, and all sorts of nasty byproducts floating around from cooking with gasoline.

Again, totally agree that empathetic drug policy would make this issue nearly nonexistent.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 3:12 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, we could prohibit codeine tablets. Or, you know, treat addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one. EMCDDA reports indicate that drug deaths are lower and drug use in general is lower in countries such as Holland, where addiction is addressed as a public health matter.

Actually, one of my first experiences when I lived in Holland was being prescribed codeine for a bad bronchitis. Not only wasn't it sold over the counter, but the pharmacist actually had to get the pills from a safe and count them one by one. Maybe these were particularly high-dosage pills: I had been coughing my lungs out, and a single pill left me pleasantly drowsy (the placebo effect may have helped, though), but I was left with the impression that codeine is one drug that's actually very closely watched in Holland, of all places.
posted by Skeptic at 3:16 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


formless: "What's really scary about all of this is not the drug itself, it's that it points to a huge lack of science and chemistry knowledge in our public and community."

Reminds me of the stuff they used to feed us in high school about how marijuana contains HUNDREDS of different chemicals.

Yeah, so do cheeseburgers.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:18 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, today Obama pledged 300 million dollars to fight drug cartels in Central America.

That'd buy a lot of medical help, even with our fucked-up health care system.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:39 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


aught: I don't see the birds in my yard seeking anything but enough food to live to the end of another day (including enough energy to sing loudly outside bedroom windows at 4 a.m.).

Grow a crab apple tree and leave the apples until they fall off and start fermenting.

You will have very happy, hammered birds.
posted by Decimask at 5:29 PM on June 22, 2011


Yeah, about half those "deadly" ingredients can be found in a jar of cold cream. I buy sodium hydroxide and the potassium counterpart to make soap and other formulations. (although I did get to visit with the men in black when I ordered 800 pounds of it.)
posted by dejah420 at 7:01 PM on June 22, 2011


But do they have that 'dope fiend lean'?

Sort of ... they lean right into a coffin.
posted by bwg at 7:10 PM on June 22, 2011


According to some, it's not just Heroin that rots your body, and it's not just in Russia.
L.A. coke is worse than you remember

(here's hoping they bring back coke classic, eh?)
posted by ShutterBun at 1:34 AM on June 23, 2011


Holy Christ in a hammock, that is some wince-inducing, horrifying shit. I'm still wiggling my digits and limbs to feel that they are there, and are safe. I love you, digits, and arms, and legs, and skin. I promise I will be better to you.

As I am sitting here looking at footage of living people with exposed bones, wondering how anyone who has seen these images would possibly go on to inject this concoction, there is a pack of cigarettes on my table. Videos of gangrenous smoker amputees run on my television, and photos of tarry smoker lungs are plastered around town. Despite several attempts, I still haven't managed to stop.

Would I have taken up smoking as easily if cigarettes weren't legally, widely, and cheaply available when I started? Maybe not. Would it be easier to quit if it wasn't possible to buy them on every corner? Maybe so.

Then again, I have acquired and tried a bunch of absolutely illegal drugs over the years, from Schedule I-V. It's entirely possible that, even with a ban, I would have gotten my hands on cigarettes, and gotten hooked. And then what? Would I walk out of work to seek shady individuals and make illegal street deals (NYT) for tobacco, as the price got too high but I still needed my fix? Or would I, like the Russian addicts, start trying to make my own drugs (NYT)? Let's also not forget that the illegal drug trade kills people in all kinds of ways that have nothing to do with addiction.

I count my blessings that I ended up addicted to a drug that is somewhat socially accepted, and the use of which won't land me in jail. I can't imagine how hard it would be to kick opiate addiction; in addition to struggling with chemical dependence, there's a good chance that it would involve interacting with seriously dangerous individuals, and having to go into debt or steal to get an overpriced fix. Regulated legalization may increase availability, but here's the thing: the stuff is already highly available. We should just stop pretending that it isn't.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2011


In response to the whole "how scary is bathtub chemistry" issue I will say that as a one-time student of chemistry (I have a Bachelor's degree), who had occasion to attempt to concoct specific chemicals using only the most correct ingredients and proper equipment and according to instructions that were published in peer-reviewed journals, the idea of introducing the product of chemical processes of the "krokodil" nature directly into my bloodstream is uniquely horrifying (moreso than the idea of shooting, well, anything, or even just average mass-crime-produced heroin, which I would certainly never do). It invokes memories of running the product of some misbegotten lab experiment through an NMR or spectrophotometer and looking at the hellbroth of funky reaction products that turned what was supposed to be a nice clean peak into a jagged chunky scrawl (which meant I was about to get a C for that project).

I have to assume that a lot of why certain processes and consequently certain products become ubiquitous boils down (no pun intended) to the accessibility of the precursors and the relative insensitivity of the process that gets translated down from proper chemistry to the sort of kitchen cookery with household ingredients that a desperate junkie can manage. Seriously, ick, though.
posted by nanojath at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you Nanojath. I knew I wasn't being crazy.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:51 AM on June 23, 2011


Also, it strikes me that the name might also derive from chlorocodide, which is part of the production process.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2011


shutterbun: According to some, it's not just Heroin that rots your body, and it's not just in Russia. L.A. coke is worse than you remember

(here's hoping they bring back coke classic, eh?)


Hear, hear. A long, long time ago, long before the statue of limitations for this offense expired, I used to run into the White Lady on weekends. It was around a lot, I limited my use, had my fun, and we parted ways for a bit. I ran into her again, but after hearing about the levamisole thing, the sub-par quality, and some other issues, I decided it probably wasn't worth getting re-acquainted.

In an odd coincidence, I was up at a farm a little while ago and I saw a big box of it sitting on a shelf. From what I've heard, they still aren't sure exactly why it's getting cut in so often, but theories include: it adds to the high, it can go through an acid-base conversion (like during the production of "crack") and as a result produces the illusion of less "cut", and it's easily available (like on ranches for deworming cattle). That being said, the "ROTS YOUR FLESH" is a bit overblown with regard to levamisole. It's relatively rare in comparison to other side effects (immune-related issues like Agranulocytosis) and isn't exactly flesh-rot like MRSA or gangrene, more patchy cell-death (but FLESH ROT makes a catchier headline). Levamisole is also a small-ish cut of the cocaine and it generally takes frequent use to cause major problems. Most conditions, if addressed in time, are reversible and/or treatable, but include immune-related issues as well. The Stranger has a really informative series of articles on the phenomenon.
posted by nTeleKy at 5:07 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


As soon as a couple birds find some fermenting berries, I can nearly promise you that more will come.

The Wood Pigeons around here like to eat over-ripe Kawakawa berries. Sometimes they get drunk enough that they start to loose their sense of balance and inhibition (they normally fly away if they think you're looking at them, even if you're meters out of reach). Highly amusing antics. We've had a couple of them fly through our windows (not so amusing). Not sure if they were over the limit. Clearly, the Gov needs a PSA for this, because if you drink and fly, you're a bloody idiot.

As for junkies, a clean, measurable, reliable supply of opiates, and a system that doesn't consider addiction a crime does wonders for society (you know, since few care about the junkies themselves).
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 5:54 PM on June 25, 2011


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