Krokodil is a deadly, homemade alternative to heroin that surged through Russia in 2010. After reaching the United States in 2015, the drug is now close to the UK, with recently reported appearances in Germany and Norway. This dangerous ‘heroin moonshine’ is highly toxic and rots the flesh. The drug is very cheap and can be concocted using easily accessible over-the-counter medication. The danger lies in its toxic by-products which are injected into the body resulting in tissue damage. After a short time, the skin necrosis leads to the need for amputation and irreversible damage to the nervous system. Users develop gangrenous, scaly skin resembling that of a crocodile, hence the name ‘Krokodil’. According to experts, Krokodil addicts have a two to thee-year life expectancy, and in some cases the first injection leads directly to death.
In Russia it is estimated that up to a million people are injecting this deadly drug, according to the US website Narconon. 2011 saw 23 times more Krokodil seized by law enforcement since 2009; and within the first three months of 2011, 65 million doses were seized. Krokodil takes roughly 45 minutes to prepare from over-the-counter ingredients. Users then experience a 90-minute-high after which the painful symptoms of withdrawal begin to set in. This short timetable can cause users to get caught in a 24-hour-cycle to avoid the effects of withdrawal. For those addicted to Krokodil withdrawal is much more agonizing than heroin and can last up to one month, causing users to feel almost unbearable pain. Experts dealing with addicts have noted that this drug is one of the strongest levels of addiction and extraordinarily hard to cure.
Yasmin Batliwala, Chair of WDP, said ‘There is a possibility that this drug will begin to be used in the UK as a much cheaper alternative to heroin. The greatest concern is that all the ingredients needed to manufacture this drug are available from pharmacies. Krokodil is highly addictive and destructive, and we must be vigilant about such drugs, and new combinations of drugs, and start to put measures in place for the possibility that it will surface within the UK. Prevention is key, so raising awareness of its potential dangers is a must.’
One man determined to raise awareness of the danger of this drug is filmmaker Romain Demongeot. Demongeot founded prevention-Krokodil.org an organization designed not only to raise awareness about use of the drug, but also to warn people about the poisonous nature of Krokodil. To reinforce his message, Demongeot has written and directed a short film called ‘Krokodil Requiem’, which uses art to raise awareness about this important topic. Inspired by Prokofiev’s, Peter and the Wolf, Krokodil Requiem is a 6-minute short film with a powerful visual and acoustic aesthetic, designed to forcefully portray the dangers of Krokodil. The film, made in collaboration with co-director Sonia Presne, uses a binaural 3D sound experience which amplifies the visual effects, plunging the viewer into a real sonar world.
Demongeot said: “I have used artistic expression to look at this crisis from another angle. Creatively speaking, the idea was to talk about the drug, but from the inside. Prevention films tend to denounce a lot of things, but they don’t explain how a drug addict feels. Dark thoughts, desperation and suicidal thoughts are never mentioned – that’s why we decided to make this short movie, and detail the emotions drug addicts go through when they inject the drug into their systems. More deaths will happen if we do not talk about it”.