Normally we don't link to articles from the Guardian.co.uk, but this news item is too alarming to ignore.
Oxi, or oxidado – "rust" – is the latest drug to surface in the Amazon. It is reputedly twice as powerful as crack cocaine and just a fifth of the price.
"It is terrifying," said Alvaro Mendes, an outreach worker in Rio Branco from the state of Acre's Harm Reduction Association, the NGO that first detected the drug. "The majority of first-time users become addicted on their first contact with the drug. Most of them go seven to 10 days without sleeping, without eating. They start to go into a process of degeneration. After months of use … they go into a state where they look like zombies, wandering … in search of pleasure." [Other symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations, extreme weight loss caused by neglecting to eat, and loss of teeth. "Oxi" is a highly addictive and hallucinogenic blend of cocaine paste, gasoline, kerosene and quicklime (calcium oxide).]
Described as a cheaper and deadlier successor to crack, oxi sells for about R$2 (75p) a rock and is smoked in pipes improvised from cans, pieces of piping and metal taps. According to Mendes, whose support group works with slum-dwellers, prostitutes, transvestites and homeless people who are hooked on the drug, oxi can kill within a year....