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Flakka

This drug is often marketed to substance abusers as a strong substitute for methamphetamines, and it comes at a much slimmer price. Business Insider reports one dose of the drug can come as cheap as $5. Initially popping up in popular drug trafficking states like Florida and Ohio, this drug was quickly banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2014. Unfortunately, it has lingered in the US, along with many other popular research chemicals that continue to claim lives. Keeping such chemicals out of reach from substance abusers has been nearly impossible. Most of these drugs stem from production labs in China and are manufactured at a far faster rate than federal bans can keep up with. As soon as the US bans a drug, new formulations of it are already rolling out to replace it, resulting in continual importation of new substances.

Who Abuses It?

Flakka is particularly popular among young people. Abuse of flakka seems to be saturating southern regions of Florida the most. Hospitals in the area see an average of 20 people a day who are admitted for issues stemming from flakka abuse, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence notes. The mentally ill are also likely abusers of flakka due to their propensity to use drugs to cope with uncomfortable psychiatric symptoms. Substance abusers who are fans of other research chemicals are likely to abuse flakka, too.

How Is It Abused?

The base drug in flakka is alpha-PVP, which produces a high that is similar to that of crystal meth. The drug comes in a fine and powdery, crystalized rock form. The most popular methods of ingestion appear to be vaporizing it through vaping tools and e-cigarette cartridges. Some people also smoke it in rolled cigarettes or pipes, while others snort it or even eat it. Use of flakka has now progressed to injection drug use methods for some users, too.It appears more people are using this drug every year. A popular Florida newspaper reported on the presence of flakka in more than 100 people involved in criminal cases in just eight months’ time in 2014, per Fushion. The same region — Broward County — found the drug in more than 300 cases during the first three months of 2015, according to WebMD.

Signs of Addiction

If you are finding yourself more drawn to using flakka over time, you may be at risk for drug addiction. If you can’t stop, dependency has likely already taken hold. Tolerance is the first and often the most prominent symptom of addiction. If you used to get high off a small dose of flakka and now you need more than that to get the same fix, you’ve developed a tolerance. This means your body is physically dependent upon flakka. Without it, you may feel symptoms of withdrawal such as depression, insomnia, intensely irritable moods, and night sweats. If you’re bailing on family engagements, showing up late to work, and skipping out events with friends because you’d rather stay home and get high, you may be addicted to flakka. Trying to quit and failing, continuing to use even though it is only causing you harm, and having relentless thoughts about when you can use again are other signs of dependency.

Danger Ahead

There are numerous side effects involved with abusing flakka. Many people experience a heightened state of paranoia and extreme anxiety. This can further complicate life for individuals who are already battling anxiety disorders, which the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports 20 percent of substance abusers do. Some people can suffer more severe effects such as psychotic symptoms, hallucinations, stroke, cardiac arrest, and renal failure. Some media outlets have taken to calling flakka the “insanity drug” due to the extreme impact it has on abusers’ behavior. This potent drug can raise your body temperature as high as 106 degrees, Forbes Magazine reports. Often, users will rip their clothing off their own bodies due to the extreme warmth they feel, and many have ended up running through the streets screaming and even attacking others. Many experience vivid hallucinations while high on the drug. For those who inject flakka, the same risks of injecting any drug apply. The risk of adverse effects is particularly high for those who don’t take care to make sure their needles and prep supplies are clean. People who share needles are at a vastly increased risk of contracting infectious diseases. The University of Washington reports 16 percent of new cases of hepatitis B are attributed to injection drug use, as are 60 percent or more of the 36,000 new hepatitis C infections each year, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Where HIV is concerned, 47,500 people were diagnosed with the virus in 2010, and 8 percent were due to injection drug use, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blood infections and collapsed veins are also potential risks to flakka users’ health.

Treatment for Flakka Abuse

Since flakka is fairly new to the drug trade, there is no set treatment protocol. In fact, many rehab centers are not equipped to even manage detox and treatment for an addiction to designer drugs. Those that are treat most cases of flakka dependency as they would an addiction to amphetamines. Abrupt cold-turkey methods of detox may be suitable for short-term flakka abusers, but those who have been using for a prolonged period of time may respond better to substitution with a prescription amphetamine for which the dose is slowly reduced over a period of about a week. Due to the potential for severe psychological and physical side effects during this time, medical supervision is strongly encouraged. After you complete withdrawal, intensive therapy is advised to address the deep-seated issues that led you to a life of substance abuse. When you go home, you shouldn’t feel like you’re alone in this fight. Support groups are a fantastic resource for recovering addicts; many continue to attend meetings for years into their sobriety, or even for the rest of life. The rate of relapse for research chemical addictions is still unclear. Typical drug and alcohol abusers have a 40-60 percent chance of relapsing within a year following treatment, per theNIDA. It is thought that the risk of relapse when you’re addicted to flakka is similar. Treatment can make a difference, and here at Futures of Palm Beach, we can provide that care. Call now to learn more.