Reported use of the drug nicknamed Krocodil in Arizona have been pounced on by the media.  The drug, which originated in Siberia, leaves crocodile-like green scales near injection sites, accounting for the drug’s nickname.  The drug is made by mixing ground-up  codeine-type medicine with iodine, gasoline and paint thinner.  The drug spread rapidly in Russia as a cheap alternative to heroin.  The user experiences a opiate-like high, but one of much shorter duration than heroin use.

TIME Magazine, in an investigative article on Krocodil, termed it “the most horrible drug ever.”  The drug itself, along with its resulting publicity, is reminiscent of the media treatment of methamphetamine, our most recent “horrible drug.”  A headline in the Guardian called Krocodil the Drug that eats You Alive!  (See story)

Some observations

  • Krocodil now reigns as the most “horrible drug” replacing methamphetamine which replaced crack which replaced, well, you get the picture.
  • If history is any guide, and Krocodil has any staying power, the drug cartels will move quickly into the Krocodil business, a new product line for the traffickers in every corner of the country.  New street violence will erupt as gangs compete for control of the Kroc market.
  • Government will move to make Krocodil a felony offense and enact controls on legal medication as “drug precursors.”
  • The inventiveness of people determined to get high knows no boundaries.  In the era before computers, typewriter corrections fluid was briefly popular and huffing gasoline or glue fumes has been around for fifty years.
  • The internet now provides instant information and instruction for those seeking the latest and greatest drug thrill.  Google “Krocodil” and you’ll find the necessary information to get you started.
  • Price is an important element in the drug business. Krocodil gained popularity in Russia as a much cheaper alternative to heroin.  In this country, much of the current heroin problem is attributed to people using cheap heroin as an alternative to prescription pain medicine.
  • Government policy on heroin in Russia facilitated the spread of Krocodil.  Government policy in the U.S. has facilitated the use of heroin.  Have we learned anything?

The whole discussion of Krocodil to this point is a tired rerun.  We can continue the failures of the past War on Drugs or try a new direction.