Flakka, known in the streets of Florida as ‘$5 insanity,’ is rapidly gaining attention.
Recent reports involving flakka include one man running naked through the streets of Ft. Lauderdale, another man trying to kick in the glass doors of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale police headquarters and a man reportedly impaling himself on a metal fence.
The worst stint to-date involving flakka happened a few days ago where a young college student killed a couple and was said to gnaw on the victim’s face.
The earliest records of flakka use appeared back in 2012, when there were only 85 reported cases. The numbers seemed to be on a steady rise when 670 cases were filed on 2014. Authorities observed a nearly 780 percent increase in the number of reported cases in the last three years.
Flakka is now overwhelming police and hospitals in Florida, and authorities are alarmed mainly because of the drug’s very low street price. It can cost as little as $5 and can be easily bought in bulk.
“The cost is what really alarmed us… a lot more people can get their hands on it, and that’s always a problem” Fort Lauderdale police Sergeant Nick Coffin said in an interview with Dispatch Times.
The drug can be taken in a number of ways, including snorting, smoking, injection or ingestion in the form of flakka-laced gummy candies.
Users experience short-term effects similar to cocaine and amphetamines such as euphoric sensations, increase in blood pressure and rapid increase in heart rate. Users also have a heightened state alertness and often display aggressive behaviors.
At increased doses, flakka is known to have an altering effect on the body’s temperature, causing an abnormal rise which can lead to muscle degradation and kidney complications.
What is really creating the buzz around flakka, however, is the abnormal behavior of users when they are high on the drug. Researchers say users tend to develop a feeling of superhuman strength and seem to have a drastic change in psychological state.
Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova Southeastern University stated that, “We’re starting to see a rash of cases of syndrome referred to as excited delirium.”
Dr. Hall further stated that, “This is where the body goes into hyperthermia, generally a temperature of 105 degrees. The individual becomes psychotic, they . . . have an adrenaline-like strength and police are called and it takes four or five officers to restrain them. Then once they are restrained, if they don’t receive immediate medical attention they can die.”
Flakka is thought to have originated in South Florida and is currently one of the newer chemicals in the black market of synthetic or designer drugs. The drug’s chemical composition includes a synthetic version of an amphetamine-like stimulant in the cathinone class called alpha-PVP.
The cathinone chemical is derived from a plant originating in the Middle east and Somalia named Khat. People from this region are known to chew on Khat leaves for a euphoric buzz.
Its effect is similar to other stimulants. Where the brain is flooded with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is active in regulating the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Flakka works on the brain cells by hindering the reuptake of dopamine thereby, producing a much more intense sensation of euphoria.
Though Flakka is a relatively new synthetic drug, data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown it to be as potent as methamphetamine, yet with an even higher propensity for addiction development in those who abuse it.
Fortunately, it is good to know that there are withdrawal treatments and treatments for flakka addiction. There are treatment centers that offer flakka addiction recovery programs. These programs involve a number of steps that are beneficial in streamlining the recovery process, including assessment and evaluation of the patient in order to give him or her the proper program to follow. They guide the patient through detoxification and adjunct therapy. These programs encourage family participation aimed at reconciling severed ties.
These programs provide a supportive and safe environment and are handled by addiction treatment professionals. The right recovery center will allow addicted people to get back on their feet and start life anew.
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