Russia as a nation has undergone a series of dramatic changes in recent history. The end of communism, namely, ushered in a culture of addiction and unemployment. Alcoholism in Russia has been well-documented, but the rampant heroin addiction is much less publicised, and proven by statistics - over a third of global heroin deaths occur in Russia.
Around four years ago, Russian heroin addicts discovered how to make desomorphine - a synthetic variant of heroin which has a shorter high but a greater strength. This became known as krokodil, or crocodile. It is made from extremely cheap and legal, over-the-counter ingredients. With the advent of the global economic crisis, many addicts can no longer afford the £20-60 price for a hit of comparatively safe heroin. Krokodil use has therefore exploded in recent months, particularly in Moscow, which is home to around 100,000 heroin addicts.
Karl Marx wrote that religion is the opium of the people, he was wrong. Krokodil is. Its price and availability outweigh its drastic effects in the eyes of the desperate. The average life expectancy of a krokodil user is less than a year, and after a quick Youtube search, you’ll see why.
It is unlikely that the heroin problem within Russia will ever be really challenged unless the belief that drug addiction can be “fought”, in the normal sense, is ended. A “war on drugs” is an unwinnable one; controlled access, quality rehabilitation and a realistic acceptance of the problems and root causes of addiction are required for the cycle of abuse to end.
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