When I was a kid, I don’t ever recall any of my friends ever saying they want to abuse drugs when they grow up. I really didn’t think about it because I was too busy having fun, doing chores, schoolwork, or making money by doing seasonal work like mowing lawns. Every once in a while in my spare time, I would binge read the latest story lines in comic books. My favorite characters were the ones that had next to no super power abilities. Just everyday normal people like you and me. I’m not going to deny the fact that my parents would have worn out my backside if I’d tried anything drug-related outside of what my doctor prescribed while I was sick.

Now that I’m all grown up and kids of my own, I often wonder at what point a young person just says “yes” to accept drugs to be the norm. I’m curious to know what makes it so enticing and the benefits of doing illicit drugs. Research has shown me that it’s the superhuman feeling one gets while under the influence of certain drugs that make a person want and crave more. Imagine, a newer drug that makes you act like the Incredible Hulk or make you feel like Superman, giving you the courage (and stupidity) of doing things you normally wouldn’t do, like trying to break down the front door of a police department for example. Its effects can be as potent as crystal meth, bath salts (not be confused with Epsom salts that are sold for bathing), or cocaine. It’s called Flakka (a.k.a. alpha-PVP), and it’s the new designer drug.

Flakka   It causes people to act erratically and dangerously. Flakka is said to resemble a mix of crack cocaine and methamphetamine while giving off a foul smell, similar to that of a sweaty sock. The name is derived from the Spanish word, flaca, which means skinny, however exact spelling “flakka” translates to “move” in Icelandic. Although, don’t let the name fool you because the drug is not from either one of the speaking regions. It is derived from Khat (pronounced “cot”), a shrub (Catha edulis) that is native to East Africa and southern Arabia. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Khat is not scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. It does have two main psychoactive ingredients: cathinone and cathine. Cathinone is a Schedule 1 drug; therefore the Federal Government considers Khat use illegal.

There has been a synthetic version of Cathinone (same class of chemical used to make bath salts) found in some cases that users can inject, snort, smoke (e-cig / vaped), or swallow in different versions of flakka. One thing that makes this drug dangerous when someone uses it is the fact that they will lose touch with reality, giving the feel of superhuman strength tied in with extreme paranoia. The effects caused by the drug can last for at least three hours but can linger for up to several days at a time. The drug is highly addictive from a physical as well as a psychological perspective.

Usage of the drug has been reported in Florida (where the drug has been nicknamed “$5 insanity”), Texas, and Ohio (where it’s known as “Gravel” because of its looks), but the drug is likely making its way into many other parts of the country. One thing that makes this drug attractive to users is the fact that it hasn’t been officially banned yet like bath salts which also contain the drug, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Considering the side effects of this dangerous drug include aggression, anxiety, paranoia, heart problems, psychosis, and severe hallucinations, one would think this drug would be banned. We’ll save that discussion for another day.

“The individual becomes psychotic, they often rip off their clothes and runs out into the street violently and 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,” said Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova Southeastern University. As long as Flakka is cheap and considered easy to get from makeshift labs in other countries such as China and India, it’s going to remain in popular demand by those who want to use it in the U.S.A.

Flakka in a bag   What’s worse is that some users like to participate in a practice known as “snacking”, the consumption of additional Flakka while already experiencing the high feeling (or in other words combining cathinone with other drugs) often leads to serious health complications. One of the possible results is a state of condition called “excited delirium.” That’s when the person acts violent, agitated, and paranoid while their body temperature gets to at least 105 degrees, which goes into severe overheating causing their organs to literally break down, resulting in death.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go out like that. To me, that sounds painful even though the person taking this drug is higher that a kite. What is the most common drug(s) mixed with Flakka? With synthetics or any illicit drug, there’s no absolute way of knowing what you’ll get in the mix. For example, Flakka usually contains alpha-PVP but, it could also contain cocaine or methamphetamine. That alone should be scary enough to keep you away from it. You simply have no idea what you are putting into your body or the effects (short or long term) with these types of drugs.

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