War on Drugs

Supposed Flesh Eating Drug Krokodil in U.S. Seems to Be a Crock


I can't even pretend to be surprised ironically here: another scare about a horribly dangerous street drug despoiling the U.S. of A turns out to be a crock. See Chicago Tribune the other day on "krokodil," the Russian import supposedly more dangerous to Americans' health than Boris and Natasha combined:

marfis75 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

An announcement two weeks ago by a Joliet doctor who said he treated three patients who showed the telltale rotting flesh associated with the toxic, home-brewed opiate — made from mixing codeine tablets with solvents like gasoline or acids — has sparked media coverage. A week later, a Crystal Lake hospital reported treating a krokodil user, and reports have cropped up across the country.

Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago office, said doctors and victims in the Chicago area have been interviewed by law enforcement.

….200 DEA agents across five states have made finding krokodil a top priority, Riley said.

"We have run quite a few buys in the city and suburbs," Riley said "What the lab tells us is it's just heroin."….

The Tribune contacted health officials in nine states where reports of krokodil have surfaced in the media, but no agency, yet, has found conclusive proof that the drug is in use….

Health authorities and hospital officials in Oklahoma and Utah said cases of krokodil use there remain unconfirmed or were debunked….

…..even the symptoms associated with krokodil use are not that unique, said Jane Maxwell, a researcher at the University of Texas….

Long-term users of injectable drugs like heroin can develop infections from reusing needles and exposing themselves to all sorts of bacteria, leading to staph infections or those that are resistant to methicillin, known as MRSA infections….

The images of rotting flesh and zombielike krokodil junkies could scarcely make for a more frightening cautionary tale about drug use, [Kathleen] Kane-Willis [a director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy] said. A krokodil panic, Kane-Willis fears, will draw attention away from the need for better treatment options for drug users.

"But when you try to scare people with something that's not real, you lose credibility," she said. "And when you dehumanize someone with addictions, you make it harder for them to seek help."

Steven Greenhut from May on how the drug war is fueled by crackpot scare stories. Jacob Sullum from earlier this month on how prohibition could lead people to even contemplate making crummy drugs like krokodil.