Tag Archives: drug addiction

The compassionate left: Seattle residents want to stop nearby redevelopment into homeless supportive services for adults, veterans

Seattle city residents keep electing demorats who do absolutely nothing – except raise taxes – to solve their homeless crisis. Instead of getting the mentally ill and drug addicted into treatment, Seattle bureaucrats merely shuffle them around and assign caseworkers to do who-knows-what (besides spending taxpayer dollars).

Sorry if I’ve got no sympathy left for these residents who are now upset with their local politicians for wanting to put low income housing in their backyard. Elections have consequences.

This will come as no surprise: NIMBY folk in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood are trying to stop redevelopment of a decommissioned Army base at Discovery Park. The city wants to turn the empty buildings into 238 units of affordable housing.

About Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood:

• The median home price is 140% higher than the Seattle average
• The median sales price of a home in Magnolia is $865,500
• The median home income is $108,612 – 73% higher than Seattle

According to MyNorthwest.com, a citizen group is fighting back against the City of Seattle’s plans to turn Fort Lawton, the decommissioned Army base at the main entrance to Magnolia’s Discovery Park, into 238 units of affordable housing.

Aerial view of Fort Lawton at Discovery Park

Excerpts from their story:

Spearheading the Discovery Park + 29 movement to save Fort Lawton is Seattle City Council District 7 candidate Elizabeth Campbell, who said that the city’s redevelopment plan will destroy a “jewel in the city park system” at a time when Seattle is already bursting at the seams with population growth.

For one, she pointed out to the Dori Monson Show, with the popularity of Discovery Park as an urban oasis, the Fort Lawton area is currently used for badly-needed overflow parking on busy days. “The park is already almost at capacity on weekends,” she said. “An immense number of people come through there … the park needs that additional land to expand and maintain its integrity as a natural space.”

According to Campbell, the city is refusing to think long-term by ignoring its own parks plans, such as the 2017 Parks and Open Space Plan and Comprehensive Plan.

The city’s plan for Fort Lawton includes three categories of housing — flats and houses for renter households at 60 percent of the area median income, townhouses for owner households at 80 percent AMI, and “homeless supportive housing for older adults, including veterans.”

It goes on to describe that the supportive housing would include onsite case managers, and that addiction and mental health service providers could possibly be brought onsite as well.

Campbell said, however, that the wording is disingenuous, noting that it would be not only the residents of the supportive housing, but also the residents of the units of affordable housing, who would “have issues.”

It avoids the problem of describing really who is going to be there … the plan is for the city to monitor and have programming in place 24/7 for every level of resident that they have there,” she said. “So, I mean, it’s a highly problematic type of compound that they’re establishing.”

Read their whole story here.

DCG

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It’s good to have friends in high places: SF mayor asks Gov. Brown to release her brother from prison

Mayor London Breed: Seeking release of her brother for an unfair sentence.

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

From SF Gate: San Francisco Mayor London Breed has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to release her brother from prison, where he has served nearly two decades of a 44-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction in the death of a San Francisco woman, according to the mayor’s office.

Breed’s brother, Napoleon Brown, now 46, pushed 25-year-old Lenties White from a getaway car on the Golden Gate Bridge after an armed robbery in June 2000. She was struck by an oncoming drunken driver and died.

Breed sent a letter to Gov. Brown on Oct. 23 asking him to “consider leniency” and commute her brother’s prison sentence. The letter appears to have been sent on personal stationery, but the heading and the body of the letter reference her position as the city’s mayor.

The mayor’s letter was sent with similar messages of support from other family members, including Napoleon Brown’s mother, sister and cousin, as part of his application to have his sentence commuted, according to documents reviewed by The Chronicle.

The mayor’s letter to the governor was first reported Tuesday night by NBC Bay Area.

Napoleon Brown has served less than half of his 44-year-sentence for White’s death and the robbery of a Johnny Rockets restaurant on Chestnut Street in San Francisco.

Breed’s status as mayor could raise questions about whether the letter constitutes an improper attempt to use her status to influence the governor’s decision.

“I am very sorry for all the people I hurt with my crimes 18 years ago,” Napoleon Brown wrote in his letter to the governor, in which he details his efforts toward self-improvement while in prison. Though he blames his “crimes and bad behaviors” on addiction, he wrote, “I still take full and complete responsibility for all my actions.” And he asks for the opportunity to re-establish a relationship with his children.

In her letter to the governor, Breed said that “Napoleon struggled early on with a sense of hopelessness. And like many others, he developed a bad drug problem at an early age. His drug addiction led to a young life of crime.”

Breed has often portrayed her impoverished upbringing in Western Addition public housing as an example of overcoming obstacles to succeed in life, especially in a city with stark income disparities. In that narrative, she has mentioned that her sister died of a drug overdose and her brother was in prison.

Breed, 44, is two years younger than her brother. Her letter to the governor apparently contains the most information she has made public about his situation.

“Although I don’t believe the 44-year sentence was fair, I make no excuses for him,” Breed wrote. “His decisions, his actions, led him to the place he finds himself now. Still, I ask that you consider mercy, and rehabilitation.”

Documents contained in her brother’s commutation application indicate that his attorneys expected to negotiate with San Francisco prosecutors for a 20-year sentence, but the district attorney’s office would only consider a “package deal,” with both Napoleon Brown and his co-defendant, Sala Thorn, pleading guilty. Thorn wanted a trial, according to Brown’s commutation application.

Before she died from blunt force trauma and blood loss at a hospital, White told officers that Napoleon Brown had pushed her out of the getaway car she was driving, according to court documents filed in 2014 related to the case.

“Prison is not the place for him to stay clean, for him to make meaningful amends for his crimes, for him to pursue restorative justice,” Breed wrote in her letter.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Court records filed in federal court detail the moments leading up to White’s death. On June 19, 2000, Brown and Thorn, then 24, walked into the Johnny Rockets restaurant between midnight and 12:30 a.m. while employees were preparing to leave for the night. The two forced workers to lie facedown on the floor and pocketed more than $7,000 from a safe.

Police Officer Gary Watts told investigators that he saw both men “walking briskly” toward him on Chestnut Street soon after the robbery. One of the men was carrying a red bank deposit bag, and the pair turned the corner and ran to a white Ford Escort with its taillights on, Watts said.

White was behind the wheel. The men piled into the car on the passenger side and the car drove off. Watts pursued the car after hearing a radio dispatch report that police were responding to a robbery at the restaurant. He asked the California Highway Patrol for assistance in stopping the vehicle, then sped ahead of the car and stopped at a parking lot near the bridge and waited for the Ford to pass him, according to the court documents.

After the Ford passed him and traveled onto the bridge, Watts followed closely behind but did not flash his patrol lights on the vehicle, he told investigators. Soon after driving onto the bridge, the Ford pulled into the buffer lane in the middle of the bridge, the driver’s-side door opened, and White was pushed to the roadway, court records show. She lay sobbing facedown in the roadway, Watts said.

Watts told investigators that when he got out of his patrol car, he saw a man exit the passenger’s side of the Ford and walk toward the driver’s side. Watts said he told the man to lie on the ground, but he ignored the order, got back in the car and drove off.

Watts said he also yelled at White to get up, but she remained in the roadway and was struck by a Dodge Stratus. Its driver was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter.

Before dying, White managed to identify Napoleon Brown as the man who pushed her from the car, calling him by his nickname of “S.B.,” and told police where he lived, police said.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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Actor Hoffman who died from heroin overdose wrote of “demons” in diaries

In my post of Aug. 26, 2012, “Psychiatric nurse says half of patients have a spiritual affliction,” I wrote:

It is partly through our faculty of reason that God protects us, so any activity that impairs our mind and will is a threat to the integrity of our selfhood. Any activity that involves an abandonment of self-control can provide an opening to the demonic. Since nature abhors a vacuum, the invitation is extended for something or someone to enter in to fill the void. In that light, it is interesting that an Alcoholics Anonymous counselor once told FOTM’s Joan that a recovering alcoholic’s mental age is much less than his chronological age; it is the individual’s biological age when he first began drinking. In other words, the person was not really present during the alcohol-soaked years, which raises the troubling question of who — or what — was there instead.

Why is it that when alcoholics or drug addicts say they’re fighting or struggling with “demons,” we don’t take them at their word?

The latest example is actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, winner of an Academy Award for his portrayal of the writer Truman Capote in a 2005 movie, who died of a heroin overdose on Feb. 2, 2014.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

A friend found Hoffman’s body in the actor’s Manhattan apartment, with a syringe still in his arm. Hoffman was only 46 years old. He left an unmarried partner, costume designer Mimi O’Donnell, and three children they had together, ages 5, 7, and 10.

Since a young age, Hoffman had abused drug, alcohol, and in his words, “anything I could get my hands on. I liked it all.” After graduating from college at age 22, he went to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, but relapsed more than 20 years later with heroin and addiction to prescription medications. In May 2013, he checked himself into a drug rehab for about 10 days. He was also attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in New York.

Richard Esposito reports for NBC News, Feb. 11, 2014, that when police searched Hoffman’s apartment, they found 49 full bags of heroin, 23 empty bags of heroin, four bags of white powder believed to be cocaine, various prescription drugs, and two small diaries — one measuring about 6 by 8 inches and another approximately 7 by 9 inches.

Those diaries reveal a man who was troubled by “demons” and struggled to control them.

According to multiple sources familiar with the diaries’ contents, the hand-scrawled entries make reference to drug deals, to the actor’s struggle with his “demons,” and his attempt to stay clean by attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

But the diaries are also hard to read, with scribbled lines, and sentences that run into each other. The handwriting sometimes starts out clearly and then becomes illegible, as if he had written parts of the diaries while high.

Sources say “It’s stream of consciousness and difficult to follow. In one line he refers to ‘Frank who always owes money’ and on the same page he writes about a 15-year-old girl from Texas”; and “It seems he did at least part of it in rehab. It definitely contained some soul-searching. But there is also a fair amount of rambling that doesn’t make sense.”

~Eowyn

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Flesh-eating Russian heroin “Krokodil” has arrived in America

I first published this post two years ago — about a horrible flesh-eating drug that Russians concoct in their kitchen sink — a desomorphine nicknamed “Krokodil” (crocodile).

At the time, I warned that “No doubt Krokodil will soon arrive on America’s shores.”

It has.

Read about it here.

Krokodil literally rots your flesh away. Below is an example. You can see more gruesome pics here.

H/t FOTM’s joworth and CSM.

~Eowyn

krokodil

Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies

A home-made heroin substitute is having a horrific effect on thousands of Russia’s drug addicts

By Shaun Walker – UK’s The Independent – June 22, 2011

Oleg glances furtively around him and, confident that nobody is watching, slips inside the entrance to a decaying Soviet-era block of flats, where Sasha is waiting for him. Ensconced in the dingy kitchen of one of the apartments, they empty the contents of a blue carrier bag that Oleg has brought with him – painkillers, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning oil, and an array of vials, syringes, and cooking implements.

Half an hour later, after much boiling, distilling, mixing and shaking, what remains is a caramel-coloured gunge held in the end of a syringe, and the acrid smell of burnt iodine in the air. Sasha fixes a dirty needle to the syringe and looks for a vein in his bruised forearm. After some time, he finds a suitable place, and hands the syringe to Oleg, telling him to inject the fluid. He closes his eyes, and takes the hit.

Russia has more heroin users than any other country in the world – up to two million, according to unofficial estimates. For most, their lot is a life of crime, stints in prison, probable contraction of HIV and hepatitis C, and an early death. As efforts to stem the flow of Afghan heroin into Russia bring some limited success, and the street price of the drug goes up, for those addicts who can’t afford their next hit, an even more terrifying spectre has raised its head.

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.

Russian heroin addicts first discovered how to make krokodil around four years ago, and there has been a steady rise in consumption, with a sudden peak in recent months. “Over the past five years, sales of codeine-based tablets have grown by dozens of times,” says Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Drug Control Agency. “It’s pretty obvious that it’s not because everyone has suddenly developed headaches.”

Heroin addiction kills 30,000 people per year in Russia – a third of global deaths from the drug – but now there is the added problem of krokodil. Mr Ivanov recalled a recent visit to a drug-treatment centre in Western Siberia. “They told me that two years ago almost all their drug users used heroin,” said the drugs tsar. “Now, more than half of them are on desomorphine.”

He estimates that overall, around 5 per cent of Russian drug users are on krokodil and other home-made drugs, which works out at about 100,000 people. It’s a huge, hidden epidemic – worse in the really isolated parts of Russia where supplies of heroin are patchy – but palpable even in cities such as Tver.

It has a population of half a million, and is a couple of hours by train from Moscow, en route to St Petersburg. Its city centre, sat on the River Volga, is lined with pretty, Tsarist-era buildings, but the suburbs are miserable. People sit on cracked wooden benches in a weed-infested “park”, gulping cans of Jaguar, an alcoholic energy drink. In the background, there are rows of crumbling apartment blocks. The shops and restaurants of Moscow are a world away; for a treat, people take the bus to the McDonald’s by the train station.

In the city’s main drug treatment centre, Artyom Yegorov talks of the devastation that krokodil is causing. “Desomorphine causes the strongest levels of addiction, and is the hardest to cure,” says the young doctor, sitting in a treatment room in the scruffy clinic, below a picture of Hugh Laurie as Dr House.

“With heroin withdrawal, the main symptoms last for five to 10 days. After that there is still a big danger of relapse but the physical pain will be gone. With krokodil, the pain can last up to a month, and it’s unbearable. They have to be injected with extremely strong tranquilisers just to keep them from passing out from the pain.”

Dr Yegorov says krokodil users are instantly identifiable because of their smell. “It’s that smell of iodine that infuses all their clothes,” he says. “There’s no way to wash it out, all you can do is burn the clothes. Any flat that has been used as a krokodil cooking house is best forgotten about as a place to live. You’ll never get that smell out of the flat.”

Addicts in Tver say they never have any problems buying the key ingredient for krokodil – codeine pills, which are sold without prescription. “Once I was trying to buy four packs, and the woman told me they could only sell two to any one person,” recalls one, with a laugh. “So I bought two packs, then came back five minutes later and bought another two. Other than that, they never refuse to sell it to us, even though they know what we’re going to do with it.” The solution, to many, is obvious: ban the sale of codeine tablets, or at least make them prescription-only. But despite the authorities being aware of the problem for well over a year, nothing has been done.

President Dmitry Medvedev has called for websites which explain how to make krokodil to be closed down, but he 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 addition to krokodil, there are reports of drug users injecting other artificial mixes, and the latest street drug is tropicamide. Used as eye drops by ophthalmologists to dilate the pupils during eye examinations, Dr Yegorov says patients have no trouble getting hold of capsules of it for about £2 per vial. Injected, the drug has severe psychiatric effects and brings on suicidal feelings.

“Addicts are being sold drugs by normal Russian women working in pharmacies, who know exactly what they’ll be used for,” said Yevgeny Roizman, an anti-drugs activist who was one of the first to talk publicly about the krokodil issue earlier this year. “Selling them to boys the same age as their own sons. Russians are killing Russians.”

Zhenya, quietly spoken and wearing dark glasses, agrees to tell his story while I sit in the back of his car in a lay-by on the outskirts of Tver. He managed to kick the habit, after spending weeks at a detox clinic ,experiencing horrendous withdrawal symptoms that included seizures, a 40-degree temperature and vomiting. He lost 14 teeth after his gums rotted away, and contracted hepatitis C.

But his fate is essentially a miraculous escape – after all, he’s still alive. Zhenya is from a small town outside Tver, and was a heroin addict for a decade before he moved onto krokodil a year ago. Of the ten friends he started injecting heroin with a decade ago, seven are dead.

Unlike heroin, where the hit can last for several hours, a krokodil high only lasts between 90 minutes and two hours, says Zhenya. Given that the “cooking” process takes at least half an hour, being a krokodil addict is basically a full-time job.

“I remember one day, we cooked for three days straight,” says one of Zhenya’s friends. “You don’t sleep much when you’re on krokodil, as you need to wake up every couple of hours for another hit. At the time we were cooking it at our place, and loads of people came round and pitched in. For three days we just kept on making it. By the end, we all staggered out yellow, exhausted and stinking of iodine.”

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.

Zhenya says every single addict he knows in his town has moved from heroin to krokodil, because it’s cheaper and easier to get hold of. “You can feel how disgusting it is when you’re doing it,” he recalls. “You’re dreaming of heroin, of something that feels clean and not like poison. But you can’t afford it, so you keep doing the krokodil. Until you die.”

Some of the names in this story have been changed

Here’s a video of surgery on a Krokodil addict’s gangrenous leg:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpuBWkJlYiA]

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Warning: New Synthetic Opiate "Krokodil" Rots Away Flesh

Russians are committing suicide via drug addiction. The country has more heroin users than any country in the world. Now, Russians are turning to a deadly synthetic opiate — a desomorphine nicknamed “Krokodil” (crocodile) — which they concoct in their kitchen sink.
No doubt Krokodil will soon arrive on America’s shores, if it hasn’t already.
H/t my friend Sol.
~Eowyn

A heroin user prepares the drug in Zhukovsky, near Moscow A heroin user prepares the drug in Zhukovsky, near Moscow

Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies

A home-made heroin substitute is having a horrific effect on thousands of Russia’s drug addicts
By Shaun Walker – UK’s The Independent – June 22, 2011Oleg glances furtively around him and, confident that nobody is watching, slips inside the entrance to a decaying Soviet-era block of flats, where Sasha is waiting for him. Ensconced in the dingy kitchen of one of the apartments, they empty the contents of a blue carrier bag that Oleg has brought with him – painkillers, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning oil, and an array of vials, syringes, and cooking implements.

Half an hour later, after much boiling, distilling, mixing and shaking, what remains is a caramel-coloured gunge held in the end of a syringe, and the acrid smell of burnt iodine in the air. Sasha fixes a dirty needle to the syringe and looks for a vein in his bruised forearm. After some time, he finds a suitable place, and hands the syringe to Oleg, telling him to inject the fluid. He closes his eyes, and takes the hit.
Russia has more heroin users than any other country in the world – up to two million, according to unofficial estimates. For most, their lot is a life of crime, stints in prison, probable contraction of HIV and hepatitis C, and an early death. As efforts to stem the flow of Afghan heroin into Russia bring some limited success, and the street price of the drug goes up, for those addicts who can’t afford their next hit, an even more terrifying spectre has raised its head.
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.
Russian heroin addicts first discovered how to make krokodil around four years ago, and there has been a steady rise in consumption, with a sudden peak in recent months. “Over the past five years, sales of codeine-based tablets have grown by dozens of times,” says Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Drug Control Agency. “It’s pretty obvious that it’s not because everyone has suddenly developed headaches.”
Heroin addiction kills 30,000 people per year in Russia – a third of global deaths from the drug – but now there is the added problem of krokodil. Mr Ivanov recalled a recent visit to a drug-treatment centre in Western Siberia. “They told me that two years ago almost all their drug users used heroin,” said the drugs tsar. “Now, more than half of them are on desomorphine.”
He estimates that overall, around 5 per cent of Russian drug users are on krokodil and other home-made drugs, which works out at about 100,000 people. It’s a huge, hidden epidemic – worse in the really isolated parts of Russia where supplies of heroin are patchy – but palpable even in cities such as Tver.
It has a population of half a million, and is a couple of hours by train from Moscow, en route to St Petersburg. Its city centre, sat on the River Volga, is lined with pretty, Tsarist-era buildings, but the suburbs are miserable. People sit on cracked wooden benches in a weed-infested “park”, gulping cans of Jaguar, an alcoholic energy drink. In the background, there are rows of crumbling apartment blocks. The shops and restaurants of Moscow are a world away; for a treat, people take the bus to the McDonald’s by the train station.
In the city’s main drug treatment centre, Artyom Yegorov talks of the devastation that krokodil is causing. “Desomorphine causes the strongest levels of addiction, and is the hardest to cure,” says the young doctor, sitting in a treatment room in the scruffy clinic, below a picture of Hugh Laurie as Dr House.
“With heroin withdrawal, the main symptoms last for five to 10 days. After that there is still a big danger of relapse but the physical pain will be gone. With krokodil, the pain can last up to a month, and it’s unbearable. They have to be injected with extremely strong tranquilisers just to keep them from passing out from the pain.”
Dr Yegorov says krokodil users are instantly identifiable because of their smell. “It’s that smell of iodine that infuses all their clothes,” he says. “There’s no way to wash it out, all you can do is burn the clothes. Any flat that has been used as a krokodil cooking house is best forgotten about as a place to live. You’ll never get that smell out of the flat.”
Addicts in Tver say they never have any problems buying the key ingredient for krokodil – codeine pills, which are sold without prescription. “Once I was trying to buy four packs, and the woman told me they could only sell two to any one person,” recalls one, with a laugh. “So I bought two packs, then came back five minutes later and bought another two. Other than that, they never refuse to sell it to us, even though they know what we’re going to do with it.” The solution, to many, is obvious: ban the sale of codeine tablets, or at least make them prescription-only. But despite the authorities being aware of the problem for well over a year, nothing has been done.
President Dmitry Medvedev has called for websites which explain how to make krokodil to be closed down, but he 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 addition to krokodil, there are reports of drug users injecting other artificial mixes, and the latest street drug is tropicamide. Used as eye drops by ophthalmologists to dilate the pupils during eye examinations, Dr Yegorov says patients have no trouble getting hold of capsules of it for about £2 per vial. Injected, the drug has severe psychiatric effects and brings on suicidal feelings.
“Addicts are being sold drugs by normal Russian women working in pharmacies, who know exactly what they’ll be used for,” said Yevgeny Roizman, an anti-drugs activist who was one of the first to talk publicly about the krokodil issue earlier this year. “Selling them to boys the same age as their own sons. Russians are killing Russians.”
Zhenya, quietly spoken and wearing dark glasses, agrees to tell his story while I sit in the back of his car in a lay-by on the outskirts of Tver. He managed to kick the habit, after spending weeks at a detox clinic ,experiencing horrendous withdrawal symptoms that included seizures, a 40-degree temperature and vomiting. He lost 14 teeth after his gums rotted away, and contracted hepatitis C.
But his fate is essentially a miraculous escape – after all, he’s still alive. Zhenya is from a small town outside Tver, and was a heroin addict for a decade before he moved onto krokodil a year ago. Of the ten friends he started injecting heroin with a decade ago, seven are dead.
Unlike heroin, where the hit can last for several hours, a krokodil high only lasts between 90 minutes and two hours, says Zhenya. Given that the “cooking” process takes at least half an hour, being a krokodil addict is basically a full-time job.
“I remember one day, we cooked for three days straight,” says one of Zhenya’s friends. “You don’t sleep much when you’re on krokodil, as you need to wake up every couple of hours for another hit. At the time we were cooking it at our place, and loads of people came round and pitched in. For three days we just kept on making it. By the end, we all staggered out yellow, exhausted and stinking of iodine.”
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.
Zhenya says every single addict he knows in his town has moved from heroin to krokodil, because it’s cheaper and easier to get hold of. “You can feel how disgusting it is when you’re doing it,” he recalls. “You’re dreaming of heroin, of something that feels clean and not like poison. But you can’t afford it, so you keep doing the krokodil. Until you die.”
Some of the names in this story have been changed
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