Debunking The Latest Drug Scare

The Dish recently noted that “Krokodil, a highly addictive designer drug that aggressively eats through flesh, has reportedly arrived in the United States.” A couple of weeks ago, Victoria Bekiempis found reasons to question those reports:

[M]aybe krokodil is starting to be a thing in North America, but there’s scant information out there yet supporting the popular thesis that its use has already spiraled out of control. Rather, the information available points to a few possible cases in Arizona, Illinois and Utah. (Several notorious krokodil deaths in Oklahoma, which prompted much of this krokodil panic, turned out not to be related to krokodil, authorities said this week.)

Part of the reason krokodil, which first made American headlines in 2011 (but surfaced in the East around 2003), has become such a problem in Russia is that heroin addicts, seeking a cheap and readily available fix, were able to acquire codeine over the counter. (That has since changed, according to published reports. The DEA could not immediately confirm the status of codeine in Russia). Since codeine is not easy to get in the U.S., there’s no easy krokodil-cooking startup culture that would kick-start its spread across North America.

Abby Haglage adds:

The less glamorous but more likely culprit in the Krokodil scare—the one that didn’t make headlines—is a drug that Americans have been snorting, sniffing, and injecting for decades: heroin. The sores are nothing new, either. As widely documented on drug policy sites across the web, intravenous drug users are susceptible to a wide range of deadly infections, including HIV, Hepatitis, B/C, and MRSA—many of which can result in gangrenous skin, deep abscesses, and loss of limbs.