Saturday, September 17, 2011

Warning: Graphic Photos – Krokodil: Addicts rotting to death and other signs of a democracy in trouble

To me, this story illustrates the dangers of failing democracy. This is what happens when democracy is in severe distress. Is our nation there yet? No, thank God. But you have to wonder how much more mismanagement, by all parties and all sides of the conservative/liberal divide, it will take to get us there. Fortunately, there are some reasons why this drug is showing up in near failing democracies, not here.

I'll start with some article excerpts, though the entire article is worth reading...

Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies - Europe, World - The Independent
:
The home-made drug that Oleg and Sasha inject is known as krokodil, or "crocodile". It is desomorphine, a synthetic opiate many times more powerful than heroin that is created from a complex chain of mixing and chemical reactions, which the addicts perform from memory several times a day. While heroin costs from £20 to £60 per dose, desomorphine can be "cooked" from codeine-based headache pills that cost £2 per pack, and other household ingredients available cheaply from the markets.
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. "If you miss the vein, that's an abscess straight away," says Sasha. Essentially, they are injecting poison directly into their flesh. One of their friends, in a neighbouring apartment block, is further down the line.

"She won't go to hospital, she just keeps injecting. Her flesh is falling off and she can hardly move anymore," says Sasha. 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.
...
President Dmitry Medvedev ... has not ordered the banning of the pills. Last month, a spokesman for the ministry of health said that there were plans to make codeine-based tablets available only on prescription, but that it was impossible to introduce the measure quickly. Opponents claim lobbying by pharmaceutical companies has caused the inaction.
"A year ago we said that we need to introduce prescriptions," says Mr Ivanov. "These tablets don't cost much but the profit margins are high. Some pharmacies make up to 25 per cent of their profits from the sale of these tablets. It's not in the interests of pharmaceutical companies or pharmacies themselves to stop this, so the government needs to use its power to regulate their sale."
...
In Tver, most krokodil users inject the drug only when they run out of money for heroin. As soon as they earn or steal enough, they go back to heroin. 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."
'via Blog this'
First of all, this post is about addiction, which always increases when economies fail, and it is about the financial costs of addiction on society. It is also about government regulation and the health care system.

People wonder why addicts don't just quit. People wonder why addicts don't have the will power to quit. Well, I am sure that most of the poor souls involved with late stage krokodil addiction would like to quit, however they are trapped in addiction and cannot. The bio-psycho-social misery of withdrawal is more painful than having their flesh fall off. Most addicts experience this level of decay when it comes to their day to day lives, their families and friends, and their souls, but these addicts can dramatically experience it with their bodies as well.

This story, to me, illustrates something I've always felt, that addicts do have tremendous will power. You'd have to have tremendous will power to take a drug with such devastating effects. For addicts, it is not a lack of will power, it is a lack of power over their addiction. I am sure every one of these people have told themselves, at some point, that this was the last time they would do krokodil, especially when the gangrene started setting in, but then the withdrawals kick in and they do what they must in order to survive, according to the addict part of their brains. They may be losing a leg, but they still feel they need to use in order to keep the rest of themselves running, and that means cooking up another batch. But I do not know if it is really possible for anyone who has not personally had to deal with addiction issues to really understand this.

So, what does this have to do with politics? Well, first there is the question of regulation. Or, in this case, deregulation and possible corruption. The drug is made from codeine which is available over the counter in much of the world outside of the Untied States. A very effective way to reduce the numbers of people using this drug would be to just make it a prescribed medication.

In Oregon, antihistamines made with pseudoephedrine have been limited to prescription sales for a couple years now because of their use in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Sure, since then, Oregon has not become the first meth free state in the union, but it has had some effects. In Russia, where the whole reason why people are turning to krokodil is because they cannot obtain heroin or other opiates, due either to its price or its unavailability, this simple action could really have an effect in reducing the numbers of people taking this drug. Of course, it might also increase the crime rate as more and more opiate addicts turn to crime to gain the funds to obtain their fixes, but at least it would get the "zombie drug" off the street.

So why has Russia not done this? Well, for one thing, an increased crime rate would effect non-addicts more than the walking zombie Krokodil users. Let them suffer for their sins while keeping the crime rates from climbing. And I suppose this might make sense, depending upon your ethics.

However, greed and corruption probably have a lot more to do with it than any concern about crime rates. As stated in the article excerpted above, the profit margins on the codeine pills are high for the pharmaceutical companies and the local pharmacies, so there is no interest on their end in losing money, and in the Russian system these days, even more than ours, money talks.

One of the central roles of government, in my eyes, is to protect its citizens. To me, this means protecting them from the dangers of unregulated capitalism and greed as much as it means protecting them from foreign threats. The pictures below show one danger from unregulated capitalism. Also, it is the government's job to protect as many of its citizens as it can, not just the majority or the ones we like. Not just the ones with the most money. Even the lowest in our society have basic human rights. Letting corporations feed on the lowest in society is not a sign, to me, of a healthy civilization.

Yes, addicts are not seen by most people as people we want to help, but people who have made devastatingly poor choices who just need to be locked up or left to suffer in the misery of their own making. However, once an addiction has taken hold, true addicts have little choice left to them when it comes to drugs and alcohol, and the science these days seems to support the idea that addiction has a strong genetic component, which means that most addicts do not have much of a choice about their addiction in the first place. Of course, if they never picked up anything, then likely they would never become addicts. But is that realistic? This biological component to addiction is why many, or even most, people can party a little too hard in their teens and twenties while still hanging on to their choices in life and becoming productive members of society while others cannot and end up having their lives ruled by drugs and alcohol while being trapped at the bottom levels of modern society, consuming more than they are able to produce.

It would easy to say that we should let the free market run with no restrictions whatsoever, because, especially cases such as this, people are free to make their own choices. But addicts are not really free to make these choices. They are already the victims of their addiction. Do we need to let the be the victims of the greedy, as well? Especially when the cost of such greed is so costly to society as a whole, not just to the addicts?

These costs are borne by society in two main ways, the criminal justice system and the health care system.

With the criminal justice system, we are talking law enforcement officers to wage the war on drugs, pursuing users and dealers, the street cops to protect the citizens from the addicts committing crimes to pay for their fixes, and the high costs of jails and prisons to hold all of these people. Especially, when it comes to incarceration as the solution to society's addiction issues, most studies show that this is an overly expensive and ineffectual solution to the problem of addiction. It is why the War on Drugs has not led to a drug free America in the last twenty or thirty years.

To me, a better solution is focusing more on treatment than incarceration when it comes to addicts who have committed crimes because of their addiction. In the long term, it is cheaper and it is more effective. And when it comes to incarceration as a deterrent? Well, if an addict is willing have their limbs rot off, what do they fear about jails and prisons, other than reduced, though not eliminated, access to drugs and alcohol?

I also believe that health care, in a country with the wealth of ours, should be a right, not a privilege. To me this means having a strong, well funded health care system available to everyone. This would include mental health treatment and treatment for addiction.

In our country, an unfortunately large segment of our society does not seek out treatment for their wounds and illnesses until they have really gotten out of control. In the realm of this story, that would mean getting their abscesses treated before the gangrene sets in and limbs need to start being amputated. Access to health care is probably not the main reason that these wounds have become so severe, of course, though it could be a reason why their addictions have become so severe that they are willing to continue using a drug with such devastating side effects. However, that does not change the fact that many people in our country do not seek treatment for their ills because they are uninsured and cannot afford any sort of health care. This problem is not limited to addicts.

Unfortunately, this increases the cost of health care for everyone, because health care organizations end up having to absorb the costs for these patients, costs which are passed on to everyone, insured and uninsured alike. In this case, a quick doctors visit to have an abscess drained and treated, a few antibiotics offered, is way cheaper than the thousands of dollars it takes to perform surgeries, hospital stays, aftercare treatment, and post-amputation rehabilitation.

This is the argument that I use with the more draconian of the free market health care crowd. They will say, why should we have to pay for these people? I don't want to pay taxes for people who cannot take care of themselves. Well, with the system we have, we pay for them one way or the other. Sure, we could change the system so we flat out deny care to people without insurance or money to pay out of pocket, we could just let them die, but while that is the effect our current system has on occasion, it is not the system we have in place right now. Hospitals cannot refuse to treat patients with life threatening conditions because of the patient's ability to pay. So we all pay. And I doubt that system will change, though if it does, it is not a change for the better, it is not a sign of an improving democracy.

As I said earlier, to me addiction is a health care issue, but most people see it as a crime issue. As a health care issue, we need to regulate corporations so they are not selling poison directly to anyone and we need to provide public health support for both the symptoms and causes of addiction. Treatment and recovery options for the addiction and medical care for the secondary health issues caused by the addiction. We need to help addicts find the cure for their addiction, not to just lock them up. Though, I do know, that many will always need to be taken off the street in order to protect the innocent, we need to have the funds in place and the resources available to help addicts that can be helped, both before and after they enter into the criminal justice system or end up requiring the state to pay for catastrophic and/or long term health care.

Anyway, I feel that the story of these krokodil addicts is the story about victims of a failing democracy. They may not be the most sympathetic of victims, but they are victims never the less. As I said earlier, there are several reasons why this drug is a problem in eastern Europe and not in the United States, and it is because our government is, for now, healthier than theirs, not because we lack the opiate junkies willing to ride their addictions to such lows. In fact, in our country, opiate addiction is creeping deeper into the fabric of our society through prescription drugs.

But while our democracy is not in a level of distress, yet, where such horrors are being allowed to occur right now, these sorts of effects can be expected if we, as voters, do not make good, informed choices about those we elect to serve us in our government.
Very graphic and disturbing photos and videos of "long" term Krokodil addicts after the break:





















The following two pictures are from the video at the end of the post, from around the three minute mark.



From the YouTube description: 


This video shows a male patient, 26yo with a hepatitis C, dry gangrene of the foot and a wet gangrene of the thigh - the result of intravenous injections of Koaxil - new drug that is popular among heroin-addicted people because of the price (cheaper than opioids) and easy access (most of the Russian pharmacies sell it without a prescription). The tool that was used to cut the bones is called "Gigli" saw. The procedure shown on video was needed because of the potential contamination and/or ethical concerns. The doctors amputated the rest of his leg later during regular surgical operation. The main concern of that poor guy was how painful procedure will be. Because of the necrotic process in the tissue during a gangrene all nerves are damaged so the person does not feel a thing.


Related Posts

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is sick how can anyone put their body threw that much poison :S. I mean for what i have learned about this new substance is absoloute horror. How could anyone have a heart so cold blooded to even hand this toxic in a bag over to people even if they are heroin addicts and have commited sins of theft and other crimes they still dont diserve to loose their body and very most in definate their life along with it the government need to get this stuff off the streets no matter what it is made out of it is absoloute horribly discrasefull. Priministers, governments athorities all need to track and catch everyone who is making this horrible substance and put a stop to it before it reaches the uk where seriouse addicts are and will get their hands on it. anyway thanks for reading my comment everyone as the reminater has spoken :P

A. F. Litt said...

The Curse of the Crocodile: Russia's Deadly Designer Drug

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2078355,00.html#ixzz1vLoH7upB

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous

As I understand it, nobody buys or sells Krokodil. It is manufactured as needed by the user from legal components. It is thought of as a temporary measure when heroine can not be obtained but for users in more remote areas it becomes more or less a permanent habit when faced with the choice of detoxing and maintaining the addiction with Krokodil.

Anonymous said...

I'm a junkie and thats just wrong, sick shit!!!

lozo855 said...

Who would willingly boost something that would rot their flesh?It seems like a great tourcher method!!! Id like to know how long dose it take for the effects of ganegreen to set in? Dose this happen from just a few uses or do you have to boot it for several months? I can't imagine it happening from just a few uses.

Anonymous said...

Nightmares he we come. That is just wrong, worse than wrong....there really are no words..

Anonymous said...

I do it everyday, it's not that bad if you ACTUALLY know how to cook it, there are such a thing as smart junkies...

Anonymous said...

How heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

Smart junkies? Lol. Yeah, because I'm sure if you continue doing this drug the "smart" way you'll be just dandy. Retard.

debra rudder said...

thatis sick why does people do that to their bodies.

debra rudder said...

thatis sick why does people do that to their bodies.

Anonymous said...

Idiots! Just don't do drugs! What the hell is wrong with people. For Christ sake. Idiotic buttwipes need a beating for being so damned stupid.

Anonymous said...

Just let them have their heroin and be done with it. It's clear that they're willing to die for it, so they may as well receive it with dignity. This is horrible.

cellstation said...

I don't understand why the over the counter medication used to make this horrifying drug has not been taken off the market? It seems like a simple sand logical solution to me.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone seem to think that these people are victims? They're not. They cook and use the drug knowing full well what is going to happen to them.

The answer isn't to take the drugs off the market, that would be another way that the minority ruin it for the majority of normal, law abiding citizens. I personally think that the answer is to show people who take this a normal life, show them a life they're missing out on and give them free healthcare to try and help them along and kick the habit.

In any case, this brings people's life expectancy down to a year, the faster the adoption of this is, the faster it will run its course. At least it's not fuelling the sales of illegal drug trades, unlike heroin.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The drug is made from legal components, as a cheaper substitute to heroin. The people who cook krokodil are either too poor to afford heroin, or it is not easy to find it. The key ingredient is codeine, which they are conflicted about taking off the market because it pulls in a large profit for pharmaceutical companies. If the drug was put on prescription only then they would lose a lot of this profit.

Don't blame the people. Seriously, how can you read this article and be angry at the junkies, of all people?? They don't want to inject something that will rot their flesh, they take it because they don't have a choice - heroin withdrawal is a physically painful process, and krokodil withdrawal is even worse. They don't have the kind of rehabilitation services readily available in the west.

I really hope that they someday manage to prevent addicts from cooking this drug, but with heroin being as expensive as it is, and with Russia having a very high proportion of heroin addicts, they will always be looking for alternatives.

eric said...

This is one of the saddest things i have ever seen. I know the horror of addiction and withdrawal and I can say I feel so fucking bad for all these young people that started out just wanting to feel a little better than normal and now are stuck injecting a first rate poison into their flesh so they can escape the horror for a half an hour or 45 minutes. The worst part is we cannot say it is the dealers fault because these young people are making this drug and injecting it all by themselves. So sad what a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Do u really do it or are u just joking around. Because this shit is serious. They poor people look horrible.

Anonymous said...

The key word here is choice..choice to try, choice to continue, choice to buy, choice to make, choice to inject with the knowledge of where it will take them.. choice to read these reports and choice to view the pictures.. CHOICE! I am not harsh or uncompassionate, I am both a survivor of my own early life, a mother and a nurse. Choice, accountability & taking responsibility is what sets us apart from animals..

Anonymous said...

Haha why dont they just take a shit ton of codeine pills instead of cooking up krokodil. boom, their high is solved

Anonymous said...

A few things:

1. America is NOT - NOT - NOT a democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic. There is a very large difference. A democracy is majority rule. The purpose of a Constitutional Republic is to place limits on the tyranny of the majority.

2. No one says they don't want to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves. They say they don't want to take care of people who WILL NOT take care of themselves. There is a very large difference.

3. Fully half of the uninsured people in this country qualify to be covered under some existing program (like Medicaid or FAMIS) but simply are not participating in it. Others are adults who can afford insurance but choose not to participate in their work plan or purchase one of their own. The actual percentage of people who are truly unable to get insurance for some reason is FAR smaller than you are led to believe and a program which covered just these people would be much, much cheaper and far more organized and successful than forcing us ALL onto a government plan.

4. Using these pictures to make a pitch for Socialised medicine is pretty ridiculous. People are not dying in the street here from no health insurance, unlike what MSNBC wants you to believe. There is no health insurance crisis, unlike what Pres. Obama and the rest of the govt wants you to believe.

Turn off the tv.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Smoke weed dumb bitches

Anonymous said...

This is what things like pot, nicotine and e cigarettes lead to. No question.

Anonymous said...

This is awful, and an extreme example of what you get when harm reduction is nonexistent and health care is available only to the rich. As for being beaten for being stupid, these people are clearly suffering worse things than mere beatings, and still they continue it until they die.

Even without a miracle, these people will be saved--all parts packaged individually in plastic bags, of course.

Anonymous said...

When I say harm reduction, I don't mean that there are safe ways of doing this crap, because there aren't. What I mean is providing other equivalent things that fill the need in a dignified and safe fashion. If they had methadone, I'm sure they would prefer it over this.

Anonymous said...

The illegal drug market doesn't have a monopoly on unscrupulous business practices. Frankly, I wouldn't be that surprised if a watered-down version of this drug were imported to the West for cosmetic use and becomes the next big thing when it is sold as a new alternative to liposuction.

Anonymous said...

Fucking Idiots!!!!, why why why, how is this helping anyone!!! you use and use expect to not live very long that's really sad and low self esteem.
. You might as well shoot yourself in the head,

Anonymous said...

Listen heroin user are not all thives or commit crimes iam one and I have never done things like that but when there is a shortage of heroin to releive the pain you would take anything.PS is already here

Jamie Heflin said...

What kind of medical facility is this? They just cut off someones leg over a trash can. He even held it up for them.
He could have done that at home.

Anonymous said...

That is the most idiotic statement that I ever heard in my entire life .

Anonymous said...

Truly moronic.

Anonymous said...

These people are addicted to opiates, therefore they're not thinking through the consequences that's how hep.c and aids can be transmitted too. When they're dope sick their thinking about one thing getting straight. People with harse opinions should remember there but for the grace of God go I

Anonymous said...

Everybody has a choice, if they choose to take this drug then they must be ready to suffer consequences... These people are deserving to the kind of pain they inflicted to themselves... At least, these addicts casualties equates to less addicts on the street...

Joss R. said...

One of the sad crisis of the world today is numbing oneself with mind altering drugs such as narcotics and alcohol. Too bad having 'fun' is killing ones' brain cells. The war on drugs is a lost cause because the lost causes won't stop using ... supply and demand. So, do YOU trust YOUR dealer? I'd sooner take my chances with a clear mind and perhaps get killed by a dope fiend looking to score after taking my wallet. Everyone loses in that game. ;p

Anonymous said...

its a choice, not a disease ,it becomes an addiction because you choose to do drugs

pinkyandrexa said...

What a terrible human tragedy, that the Russian junkies cook uo this stuff because they can't get real cocaine or be treated with Methodone to help them get off it.

No matter how stupid anyone thinks junkies are, they need help and care. If that Russian girl with the bones showing in her arm was my daughter, I would have her commited to a psychiatric hispital, sell my house to buy her skin grafts and visit her every day with Methodone and anything else she needed to keep sane. No-one should ever have to suffer that much, even if it's their own failt.

Anonymous said...

Indeed!

Anonymous said...

Stupid fucking idiot

Anonymous said...

GOD help us

ifGodbeforus said...

The article says "However, once an addiction has taken hold, true addicts have little choice left to them when it comes to drugs and alcohol, and the science these days seems to support the idea that addiction has a strong genetic component, which means that most addicts do not have much of a choice about their addiction in the first place. "
However I happen to no that this statment is untrue. I have used hard drugs and alcohol in large amounts and lived a highly destructive lifestyle, irresponsible and with no regard to my future or those around me. However, through the course of events that many 'addicts' follow I made a choice, and my life changed. Further, I am not a lone. I personally know many people who have also made a choice to live responsibly and leave drugs and alcohol behind, and I dont know THAT many people. So if I, in my relatively small circle, know a lot of former users, then that means there are actually a VERY large amount of people who have made the RIGHT choice and walked away from their destructive habits.
For me, this involved the intervention of law enforcement, forced sobriety (aka probation), drug rehab classes, and a relationship with God. I am not saying one has to be a subscriber to any religion to overcome drugs, but that was definitely part of my lifestyle transformation. Maybe religion is the drug of the sober - I do not think so but I understand that viewpoint. All NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings refer to a Higher Power - because sometimes that is what it takes to reach beyond your self and your inadequacies and insecurities and see hope and a reason to go on.
Regardless of the path, there is life after drugs and chemical abuse. NA meetings in themselves testify to this, they are numerous in every city and most towns in the US and that alone says that we are not all going down as helpless choice-less addicts. There are overcomers all around you, just open your eyes. IT IS A CHOICE! I make the choice today to be clean.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks smoking pot, a non habit forming substance, is ill informed. There are millions of pot smokers who never went past smoking pot.