A new synthetic designer drug is known as “Flakka” is becoming an increasing concern for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The active ingredient, alpha-PVP was labeled as a Schedule 1 drug and banned by the DEA in early 2014. Like all Schedule 1 drugs, alpha-PVP is considered to be dangerous due to the high potential for abuse and addiction. Despite this ban, Flakka (also known as “gravel” in some parts of the country) is becoming more prevalent. Throughout all of 2014, Broward County, FL saw about 200 cases involving alpha-PVP. However, in just the first 3 months of 2015, they’ve seen over 300 cases.
What Is Flakka?
Flakka is foul smelling, crystal-like substance that is chemically similar to bath salts. Flakka, like bath salts, are a synthetic version of a naturally occurring amphetamine called cathinones. Cathinones can be found in the shrub Catha Edulis (khat) which, when chewed, gives the user a mild sense of euphoria and is used throughout various regions of the Middle East. Like other amphetamines, Cathinones trigger dopamine sensors in the brain which release a general “feel good” sensation. The problem with Flakka is that it is significantly more powerful than the cathinones released by chewing khat, and is even more potent than bath salts. To make matters worse, it’s cheap; labeled by its users as “$5 Insanity”.
What Does it Do?
There are a few reasons that make Flakka both dangerous and terrifying. Users are subjected to vivid hallucinations which often agitate them towards violence. Coupled with these violent visions is adrenaline surged strength which often requires four or more police officers to hold a user down. Biologically, Flakka also has another nasty side effect; it spikes body temperature upwards of 106 degrees. This often results in a person stripping naked in an attempt to drop their body temperature. The end result is a violent, naked rampage through the streets powered by adrenaline super strength and fueled by vivid hallucinations.
One of the biggest issues with this drug is its incredible potency. It only takes .0003 ounces (.1 gram) to take effect. Any more than that can quickly cause the user a number of problems including heart issues, agitation, or in the cases of overdose, severe aggression and psychosis.
What is Being Done
Flakka, like every other Schedule 1 drug, is being combated by the DEA. While the source of the drug is still unclear, Law enforcement agencies are doing all they can to stop the distribution and sale of this dangerous substance.