A couple weeks ago my Facebook news feed, like yours I imagine, exploded with dire warnings complete with horrifying pictures about the dangerous epidemic of krokodil, a cheap version of heroin that was supposedly sweeping the nation. My response was one big eye roll. Here we go again, I thought. And the Chicago Tribune reports what I assumed was the case:
Some experts in law enforcement and public health say it’s unlikely the drug will be widely used beyond the remote areas of Russia and eastern Europe where it became popular a decade ago.
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. The number of unverified cases recorded by poison control centers in states where krokodil has been reported in the media is barely into double digits.
Health authorities and hospital officials in Oklahoma and Utah said cases of krokodil use there remain unconfirmed or were debunked. In 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers noted two reports of krokodil use, neither of which have been confirmed.
This should surprise no one who has been paying attention. It’s Reefer Madness all over again, a grave threat to public health that simply isn’t a big deal. Like the famous crack baby epidemic that wasn’t. Or those “bath salts” that were making people become cannibals last year. Yes, krokodil is dangerous. No one should use it. But it’s an isolated problem if it’s a problem at all, hardly worth the assignment of 200 DEA agents to go after it. And certainly not worth another breathless PR campaign. We should have learned by now that when the government gets hysterical over the latest super scary drug epidemic, it’s usually empty propaganda.