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When someone mentions “Flakka,” they may not necessarily be referring to the popular hip-hop artist – Waka Flocka Flame – if you are young enough to recognize him. But it is also highly possible that you will not have heard of the other Flakka, which has quickly emerged as one of the newest and dangerous synthetic drugs spreading rampantly across Florida. It has even made cameo appearances in Ohio and Texas. Flakka is also known as “gravel” because it looks like colorful or clear pebbles that you would see in an aquarium. It can be snorted, injected, swallowed or some young users even vape it by putting it in an e-cigarette.

What exactly is Flakka?

Flakka is typically made from the chemical compound alpha-pvp, which is a synthetic version of the amphetamine-like stimulant, cathinone, which is contained in the Khat plant. The Khat plant is indigenous in various parts of the Middle East. In this region the plant leaves are chewed on in order to achieve a euphoric high. The high from Flakka can last as brief as three to four hours or as long as several days.

Flakka is highly addictive, both physically and psychologically and is poised to challenge other designer drugs in use, such as Molly or Ecstasy, which contain MDMA. These psychedelic drugs have grown in popularity over the past 10 years. While Flakka has the potential to cause much greater harm to the users looking for that specific “high,” it could be tragic if it matches the growth of Molly and Ecstasy.

How does Flakka work?

Under normal conditions – your brain produces the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine which are critically important for nerve transmission. These chemicals are released. Flakka blocks this function of re-uptake, resulting in a prolonged dopamine and serotonin high- known as a state of “excited delirium.”

Flakka’s staggering growth

According to Forbes contributor Robert Glatter, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has seen a nearly 780% increase in the number of reported cases in the last three years. Back in 2010, not a single case of the drug had been reported in the US. Suddenly in 2012 there were 85 cases, and in 2014 there were 670.

How much does Flakka cost on the street?

Not surprisingly, one of the main reasons for this increase may be the street-drug’s low price. Flakka can cost as little as $5 a pop and is easy to buy in bulk.

What are Flakka’s harmful side-effects?

Incredibly, Flakka mirrors Molly in that it can elevate the body’s temperature to a whopping 105-106 degrees and can also cause damage to a users kidneys. The psychological effects of Flakka are increased anxiety, paranoia, delusions leading to a psychotic state, and violent behavior accompanied with increased strength and loss of reality. This is also a dangerous side-effect with Bath Salts.

Flakka causes the user to act out in very bizarre ways. Last month in Miami, a man ran outside ripping off all his clothes and screaming after he smoked Flakka. It took five police officers to restrain him because of the super human strength he was eliciting from Flakka. The man was also sweating, exhibiting paranoid delusional behavior and hallucinating.

This is just one case of the behaviors described after using Flakka. This “excited delerium” state is a high being chased after by a rapidly alarming rate of people – especially teens.

So if you’re a parent of a teen or young adult be aware of the serious and deadly consequences that can occur by using Flakka. Look out for odd behavior, educate yourself, do research, etc. so you’ll know when your child is talking about a well known rapper or a drug that can kill them by using it once…

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