A new drug is ravaging South Florida youths unknown to the average parent. Most commonly referred to as “flakka”, this cheap drug is one of the fastest growing illegal substances on the street this year. Officially known as alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (α-PVP), flakka is a highly addictive stimulant known to cause hallucinations with bizarre and hyper-active behavior—often resulting in superhuman strength in the individual.
Flakka is typically snorted, smoked, or eaten after which it becomes rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. In addition to its hallucinogenic effect, Flakka induces a sharp rise in body temperature and a corrosive effect on the kidneys—both of which could lead to death. Researchers are still unsure exactly how Flakka functions but it is unique in its addictive nature. Animal testing of the drug has revealed that it potentially has “worse addiction liability than [the highly addictive drug] methamphetamine.” (Scripps Research Institute)
Flakka first made its appearance in South Florida in 2014. Since that time, the drug has expanded nationwide with over 2,720 related cases across the country. In Broward County, Florida—the epicenter of the epidemic—the drug has claimed more than 40 lives in the past year. Flakka tends to be used by people of all ages but predominantly by the young with the median patient age being 28. Governments are scrambling to deal with the effects. Federal restrictions on the drug only came into effect in February 2014. The drug is heavily manufactured in China, after which it tends to be smuggled into the US under the guise of household products such as bath salts or aroma blends (China outlawed production of alpha-PVP on October 1, 2015). The drug is shockingly easy to obtain and can often be found available for sale in inner-city corner stores.
Flakka symptoms are hard to ignore as it induces aggressive behavior and hallucinations among its users. Individuals act in bizarre ways and seemingly lose touch with reality. Though Flakka users tend to use small doses to experience strong highs, it is not too difficult for them to overdose or reach a psychotic state.
Without endangering one’s life, the best way to help a chronic Flakka user would be to get the individual to a treatment center as quickly as possible. When considering the symptoms of violent aggression Flakka users exhibit, it is best for family and loved ones to stay clear of the individual and call for emergency personnel. Intoxicated Flakka users are a danger to themselves and those around them and it is best that the untrained not make an approach. Certified interventionists are available to assist with any incident concerning drug intoxication—including Flakka. Professionals first seek to calm the situation by subduing the intoxicated individual (sometimes physically) and getting them immediate medical treatment.
When the individual is in a clear state of mind, a proper intervention is conducted with the individual’s intoxicated actions being brought to their attention. The consequences of the individual’s destructive behavior are explained and treatment options are clearly outlined. Not all drug abuse treatment centers are created equal and the match between the individual and the treatment center plays a significant role in the recovery process.
Evan James is a nationally recognized drug interventionist and founder of Universal Crisis Intervention. For more about his services, please visit: www.extremeintervention.com or call 1-877-975-SAVE (7283)