Stigmatization and Inhumane Treatment of Krokodil Users

"In Russia and many other post-Soviet countries, the old ideology lingers on in narcological institutes, out of sync with modern public and mental health concepts (Grund et al., 2009). Many narcologists continue to view addiction as criminal or moral deviance and not as a disease. Narcological dispensaries continue to share information with law enforcement (Mendelevich, 2011). The threat of removal of child custody rights may impede women’s access to health care in particular (Shields, 2009). Stigma and discrimination, hostile treatment and lack of confidentiality are persistent in the treatment of PWID and must be viewed as important barriers to timely seeking medical care (Beardsley & Latypov, 2012; Mendelevich, 2011; Wolfe et al., 2010). PWID have therefore strong incentives to avoid narcological facilities and, by association, other state health services. In their personal 'hierarchy of risk,' seeking help for significant health problems is subordinated by the need to stay under the radar of the authorities (Connors, 1992). Several of the YouTube clips on the internet furthermore document not only the gravity of harms among krokodil users, but also poor and inhumane treatment of those hospitalized with krokodil related injuries. In one video a man’s leg is sawn off under the knee with a lint saw in what seems not to be a surgical unit, but perhaps a common hospital ward. The man sits wide-awake in an ordinary wheelchair and holds his leg himself above a bucket, which was lined with a garbage bag just before. These videos and case reports (Asaeva et al., 2011; Daria Ocheret, personal communication, 2012; Sarah Evans, personal communication, 2012) suggest that the care provided to those with krokodil related injuries may be (grossly) substandard, sometimes exacerbated by improper diagnosis and faulty clinical decisions."


Grund, J. -P. C., et al. "Breaking worse: The emergence of krokodil and excessive injuries among people who inject drugs in Eurasia." International Journal of Drug Policy (2013),