From the dirty concoction that turns people into real life zombies through to lethal prescription highs, here are the drug world's scariest players.
As the government and the Advertising Standard’s Authority tighten their grip on the distribution of alcohol this week, news stories of a booze Britain out of control have been doing the rounds. The government may want to hammer home the dangers of alcohol in the style of William Hogarth’s gin soaked, half-cut toddlers roaming the city streets, but it’s probably not going to stop you from popping out for a bottle of white for a fiver at your local Budgens.
So while we sit back in booze denial, there are a handful of drugs whose abuse still has the ability to shock. Not the casual coke snorting on weekends nor the trivialisation of celebrity smack addicts, these hold some much lesser known horror stories.
Heroin, the biggie, the one which firmly shows your commitment to self-destruction, what could be worse? A glut of stories have appeared in the last year of a home cooked opiate brew, that in Russia has become the even poorer than poor man’s heroin, the effects on the body so grim, no shock jock headlines are needed. In a country that already has the highest amount of heroin users in the world, Krokodil is a desperate last resort. Comprised mainly of desomorphine, it is a synthetic opiate derived from the painkiller codeine, which is widely available without prescription in Russia. Users cut the drug crudely with household items and iodine, the final product so dirty, injection results in a rapid onset of gangrene. As usage has become more widespread, the full destructive effects on the body have been documented, with addicts dead flesh literally falling off the bone, turning its users into zombies. The video below is a bleak and uncomfortable glimpse of the new addiction gripping the country.
Originally developed as an opioid analgesic painkiller, it’s again another synthetic replica of that old favourite heroin, replicated right down to its high level of addictiveness. As it’s still widely available in the States, faked prescriptions or unscrupulous doctors coupled with pharmacies not keeping track of individual patients, mean it can be easily abused.
It’s been dubbed ‘hillbilly heroin’ after its popularity in impoverished country areas of America, which rocketed when a high dose and cheap derivative, branded as OxyContin hit the US market, though it’s most certainly not just a drug of the poor. Nickname aside, its real danger is from being very un-hillbilly like in it’s social acceptability. It lacks the stigma of shooting up smack with a belt lasooed round your arm, but the idea of prescriptive drugs as ‘pure’ and the ease at which it can be taken is what make its usage ominous. Ask Heath Ledger.
Energises, increases alertness and is terrible for your teeth. Sounds like Red Bull, but crystal methamphetamine has fast become one of the world’s both widely used and dangerous drugs, ravaging those living on the breadline in America and now thought to be rivalling crack cocaine in popularity in Britain. Snorted, smoked, injected or ingested, though similar in price to its counterpart, averaging £50 per gram, in comparison to crack’s quick fix, the high of meth can last as long as 24 hours, making it a dirt cheap alternative. America’s Drug Enforcement Administration famously used a ’10 Years of Meth Use’ campaign, creating a timeline of one addict from police mugshots, exhibiting the classic gaunt meth-mouth of gum and dental erosion, with a few scabs thrown in from obsessive skin picking, characteristic of users hallucinating irritations from dopamine withdrawal. Again, as with Krokodil, though US laws have had a crackdown on its ingredients, crystal meth can be knocked up crudely, with the main proponent, ephedrine, able to be lifted from commercial weight loss pills and even cough syrups. In an even more hopeless twist, restrictions on ingredients have just lead to users taking it upon themselves to cook up amateur dirty batches.
Teetering somewhere between ecstasy and amphetamines ‘Bath Salts’ in the US and ‘Meow-Meow’ over here, mephedrone had the media in a frenzy, as its fleeting legality brought about tales wih price headlines including “legal drug teen ripped his scrotum off”. After much rallying to close in on what was being sold as plant fertiliser, it is now classified as a Class B. The scary part? Dane “foot up Jordan” Bowers was involved in a mephedrone drugs ring. No…really, the scary part is that it is one of many very young, ‘designer’ drugs, invented purely for recreational use with no insight into long term effects. Even heroin had its medicinal uses once, so while the side effects now may just be a heavy comedown, there’s no telling whether prolonged use will leave you in need of a colostomy bag or a body bag.
PCP / Angel Dust
Phencyclidine, or its much more appealing name, ‘angel dust’, is a lethal dissociative drug, meaning not only does it total any feelings of pain, it’s also known for its powerful hallucinatory properties, extremely similar but much more potent than the UK clubbers drug of the moment ketamine/”regretamine” (replace accordingly). While usage peaked in the late 70s in the US it has never been especially widespread, rather the drug’s notoriety is from being so frickin’ terrifying. An horrific story to circulate the web (accompanied by a photo which is strictly not for the faint hearted or those that have just had their tea) is that of a man who having smoked PCP, in the midst of its extreme anesthetic high had proceeded to slice his own face off with the shards of a broken mirror. The Internet gore-mill extends the tale saying he then fed his own flesh to his dogs, who having had induced vomiting, allegedly barfed up fragments of his face, including his lips and nose. If that isn’t enough to scare you then the story, that certainly isn’t urban legend, of rapper Big Lurch will. In 2002, after a five day PCP binge, Lurch was found naked, confused and bloody wandering the streets of Los Angeles. When police called into his home they found his flatmate, Tynisha Ysais, dead with her chest cavity ripped open. But wait for it…Ysais had teeth marks on her face and pieces of her right lung chewed and torn from her body. After medical examination human flesh was found in Lurch’s stomach. He claimed to have no recollection and remains in California State Prison on a life sentence.
Detox time anyone?
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