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New drug craze shambling to a neighborhood near you

The abuse of the homemade substance Krokodil was first cataloged in Siberia, where the stench of iodine in the small, dingy apartment flats begins to become normal for some of the country’s addicted poor.

The poverty is vicious, the winters more so, and when the money and the hope has run dry, the Russians who know the sting of a needle full of heroin turn to another, cheaper source for relief.

It is known by the street name Krokodil, a concoction stemming from codeine, easily and cheaply obtained in Russia. Heroin users who cannot afford their doses of heroin opt for the cheaper option of Krokodil until they have the funds to return to their drug of choice.

Unfortunately, the effects are much worse than most can fully realize.

AMC’s The Walking Dead, now in its fourth season and renewed for a fifth, contains zombies, the flesh hanging off their bones and falling off their bodies. Regrettably, one of the Houston Press-recognized top shows on television isn’t far from real life.

WebMD describes Krokodil as rotting the flesh off its users from the inside out, leaving real, walking, zombie-like people on the streets of Russia.

And perhaps in the United States.

Azfamily.com reported that a call was made to the poison control center at the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in which someone claimed to have a patient or two who may have used Krokodil. The patients claimed they used it; however, traces of whatever really was taken do not seem to be linked to the zombie drug.

The high from using Krokodil, claims AZfamily.com, is 10 times stronger than the high of heroin. Krokodil is also much cheaper, but the time it takes to make the substance is nearly 30 minutes. For a high that lasts not even half of the time of heroin, to be a Krokodil user requires almost constant maintenance.

When Krokodil is injected, the turpentine, lighter fluid, paint thinner or gasoline that is used with the codeine is left behind in the veins, where it destroys blood vessels, creating green, scaly sores — hence the name Krokodil, Russian for crocodile.

Dr. Frank Lovecchio, a doctor at the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, says that once a person begins using Krokodil daily, their expected lifespan is reduced to only one to two years.

This drug is undeniably dangerous. The images from Bing or Google of the aftermath of Krokodil are enough to make a grown man cringe. To imagine that this drug may have found a way into the United States is terrifying, let alone to imagine that Azfamily.com could be right about its claim that Arizona is the potential epicenter of the drug. Only New Mexico separates us from them.

College years are a known time for experimentation and developing as individuals, and some of that experimentation and development has been known to sometimes go to drug use.

USA Today reports that, as of 2007, almost half of the 5.4 million college students that attend full time drink alcohol or use drugs once a month on a binge. Hopefully, Krokodil won’t become one of those drugs of either choice or convenience.

Opinion columnist Rachel Lee is an English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]


  • A drug craze that reduces its addicts to a 1-2-year life span. Some cynics might call that a miracle drug which wipes out the population using it.

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