As a 21st century-parent, there is so much that you need to keep your eye out for: cyberbullying, sexting and a new generation of drugs. Now, there is a new drug on the streets, one that causes users to break into police departments, run down the road in their birthday suits and have violent outbursts. That drug is flakka, and it should be on your radar.
So, What Exactly Is Flakka?
In some parts of the country, flakka has become the synthetic drug of choice. Made from a compound called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), flakka is similar to bath salts. Due to its white or pink, rocky appearance, the drug is sometimes referred to as gravel. Teenagers and young adults are smoking, snorting, eating and injecting flakka. The drug can also be vaporized and used in e-cigarettes; this particular method increases the chances of overdose because the drug enters the bloodstream quickly.
Where is Flakka Found?
Flakka has become a thorn in law enforcement’s side in South Florida, in particular Broward and Palm Beach Counties. For some unknown reason, the region is a hotbed for flakka use, which is causing a number of problems in the community. However, the drug has also been seen in Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas and Ohio.
Bizarre Side Effects
You’re probably wondering, what makes the drug risky? Besides the fact that flakka is addictive, the drug which only costs a few measly dollars, can cause a multitude of side effects. In fact, it is nicknamed the “$5 insanity drug” for its bizarre side effects.
For starters, flakka causes excited delirium, which is when the body temperature becomes elevated and the individual can experience paranoia, hallucinations and exhibit strange behavior. In some cases, excited delirium can cause users to think they have super human strength, which results in them having to be restrained by multiple people. These side effects remind addiction specialists of the reactions that people used to have to PCP in the 80s.
Other side effects of flakka include rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of muscle tissue and its release into the bloodstream), kidney damage and kidney failure. In Broward County alone, three or four people a day are hospitalized for flakka use.
When teenagers and young adults take flakka, they are playing Russian roulette. The synthetic drug can cause fatal heart attacks and lead to suicide. Since September 2014, there has been 16 flakka-related deaths in Broward County.
What is Law Enforcement Doing to Stop the Drug?
Recognizing the dangers of flakka, the Drug Enforcement Administration labeled alpha-PVP a Schedule I drug —which means the drug has a high abuse potential and no recognized medicinal use—and temporarily banned the substance.
However, this ban is nothing new to drug manufacturers. They have skirted around the ban of bath salts and other synthetic drugs by simply labeling the packages “not for human consumption”.
To help keep citizens safe, law enforcement is collaborating with nonprofit organizations, schools and religious organizations to raise awareness about flakka and its side effects.
The Best Thing that You Can Do
Despite what you may think, research has proven that parents are a big influence on their teenagers. Have an open, nonjudgmental discussion with your teen about the dangers of flakka and other synthetic drugs. If they have any questions about the drug and its risks, you two can research flakka together. Having an open discussion about flakka is the most effective way to prevent your teen from abusing this dangerous synthetic drug.