Another drug on the long list of drugs we have recently reported on at Drug and Alcohol Presentations, Incorporated is Flakka, which is yet another killer drug making the rounds in our region. It is especially troublesome in Kentucky, and is moving into West Virginia and Ohio.

Flakka is a street drug similar to Ecstasy and bath salts. It is spreading across the country. It is similar to other synthetic cathinone drugs and is created by pseudo chemists in uncontrolled settings. Some of its street names include “Gravel”, Magic”, and “Five Dollar Insanity”. It is grown in the Middle East and Somalia, and comes from the khat plant. It is a foul-smelling crystal, white or pink in color, and resembles crushed rock candy or Pop Rocks. Because of its appearance, authorities are afraid children will pick it up and eat it, thinking it is real candy.

Flakka is highly addictive, both psychologically and physically. It can be ingested in a number of ways. It can be eaten, snorted, smoked in an e-cigarette or similar device. Vaporizing it is the easiest and most effective way to ingest it and get it into the bloodstream quickly. It is also the easiest way to cause an overdose.

Hyper-stimulation, paranoia, self-injury, violent aggression, and hallucinations are some of the symptoms of Flakka use. Users have been known to attack others, fight inanimate objects such as trees, or even fight imaginary objects or monsters. They often have superhuman strength. Many attempt suicide.

Flakka is in the most dangerous class of illegal drugs, Class 1, and has no known medical uses. Heart attack and kidney failure are among the side effects of its use. It can actually “re-wire” the brain’s chemistry. Users have no control over their thoughts or actions. Flakka works by changing the body’s re-uptake system. Normally, dopamine and norepinephrine are taken back into the cells after they are released, making it a closed system. These drugs are naturally produced in the body, and are important for proper nerve function. Flakka blocks the neurotransmitter system, causing a state of “excited delirium”. The body temperature can increase to dangerous levels during this state, which can lead to heart attacks or kidney failure.

As soon as authorities seem to get one illicit drug under control, another one comes along to take its place. The newer ones always seem to be stronger, even more dangerous, and have nastier side effects. If they get one area cleaned up and settled down, the drug dealers just move to another area and take over. This cycle has been going on for years, and it doesn’t seem like it will ever end.