Ripping clothes off. Violent screams. Super human strength, paranoia, delusion, and hallucinations. Flakka is one heck of a drug. And it seems like the stories of people, quite literally losing their minds of the stuff have traveled beyond just the state of Florida.
The behavior described above is known as excited delirium, which is the result of this new drug, a synthetic amphetamine-like stimulant similar to the compound in bath salts.
The drug Flakka has rocked Florida news lately and is becoming quite the problem. With hits of the stuff costing a mere 25 cents to 5 dollars, the availability and distribution of such as a substance is harrowing. Lately, in Florida the newest way to distribute this substance is on candy meant to entice young people. But that isn’t what we are here to talk about.
We are here to talk about the spread of the latest in a developing trend of synthetic drugs. Flakka has now left the state of Florida and has been found in counties in the state of Kentucky and in Eastern Tennessee. While the drug isn’t nearly as cheap (yet) it is still creating a problem for officials.
Lewis County, Kentucky
About 90 miles northeast of Lexington, in Lewis County Kentucky the drug has been making headlines the past six months. And some experts say it’s likely to spread even more.
It has sheriff’s deputies in Lewis County on high alert because it’s unlike any drug they’ve ever seen. Users are even trading heroin to get it. On the streets in Kentucky it goes by the name gravel or magic, because the high lasts so long. But it also gives them same terrifying effects as the people in Florida.
Ashley, a young woman in Lewis County who took the drug, recently found herself incapable of stopping and once again going back to jail because of it. She had been clean for almost two years when she tried flakka, she said, first shooting it and then smoking it. She was trying to get high without failing a drug test, one reason many addicts try the drug. She didn’t like it at first. It tasted bad. But she got used to it, and before she knew it, she was using a gram a day. “And that’s just a day,” she said. “I’d stay up for days chasing it.”
And Ashley is not alone. In East Tennessee stories like Ashley’s and those in Florida are popping up.
Flakka Reports in East Tennessee
In a small county known as McMinn County, investigators were surprised to find Flakka when they made a drug bust at a house. According to investigators, the drug can go for as little as 5 dollars where they are and once again can cause the same effects. Paranoia, delusion, you know the deal. Psychotic breakdowns. Investigators in Tennessee said people were also vaping the drug and vaping was the most dangerous way to take it.
More Information About Flakka
Flakka comes in crystalline rock form, can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or used in an e- cigarette and vaped. The duration of the effects of the drug can last as few as 3-4 hours, but can also linger for several days. The drug is highly addictive, both from a physical as well as a psychological perspective. Because of the ability to place it into a cartridge and vape it, the drug can easily be concealed in public, allowing many to use it without raising any suspicions.
Flakka is produced from a compound known as alpha-PVP, synthetically derived and made from an amphetamine-like derivative of the drug, cathinone. The khat plant, which grows in parts of the Middle East as well as Somalia, is the source of cathinones. The leaves of the plant are often chewed to achieve euphoria or a high.
What causes all these extreme symptoms in Flakka users?
The reason lies behind the mechanism of the drug as a re-uptake inhibitor of dopamine and norepinephrine—important chemicals for nerve transmission—leading to a more prolonged effect, typically referred to as “excited delirium.”
Under normal functioning, the chemicals are taken back up by cells after they are released. But Flakka blocks this mechanism for reuptake, leading to a concentrated and prolonged effect of dopamine and serotonin, known as a state of “excited delirium.”
During this state, body temperature can rapidly elevate to as high as 105-106 degrees Fahrenheit, triggering a cascade of events which could also lead to kidney damage and failure as a result of rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis results from the breakdown of muscle and can release a chemical called CPK, or creatine phosphokinase, which can damage the kidneys.
The physiologic effects of Flakka trigger severe anxiety, paranoia, and delusions, leading to a psychotic state, characterized by a surge of violence associated increased strength and loss of awareness of reality and surroundings.
We don’t know what the future of Flakka is. But is important to know what is going on and to keep up with the latest drugs. Stay informed. Stay safe.