Synthetic drug abuse in on the rise, and the effects of a drug called “flakka” have already taken a heavy toll on several communities in South Florida, one being Broward County.

According to a recent WSJ article, there have been 29 reported deaths from flakka drug abuse in the past year in Broward, and the crime lab at the county’s sheriff’s office has gone from analyzing one case in January 2014 to an average of 100 per month this year. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Lt. Ozzy Tianga says. Dana Swisher, the captain of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, said that flakka is now the new crack in Broward County.

What Are Synthetic Drugs?

A synthetic, or “designer,” drug is a chemically-derived compound that can mimic the effect of other drugs. Synthetics can fly under the radar because their chemical composition isn’t always known. In fact, some synthetic drugs are sold out in the open, at convenience stores and smoke shops. Two commonly known synthetic drugs are synthetic marijuana — also known as “spice” or “K2” — and bath salts — one of which is flakka.

What Is Flakka?

Flakka falls into the category of bath salt. According to NIDA, “bath salts” refers to a family of drugs containing at least one synthetic cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found in the khat plant.

Scientifically known as alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PDP), flakka can come in the form of a white or pink crystal. Users can eat, snort, inject, or smoke it in an e-cigarette. Vaporizing sends the drug almost immediately into the bloodstream. A typical does is as tiny as 0.003 ounces (0.1 grams), a blog post at CASA Columbia says, “making it incredibly easy to overdose.”

What Is Excited Delirium?

The addictive chemical in bath salts can make users feel euphoric and increase sex drive, but an overdose can lead to horrifying side effects, including:

  • Feeling you have superhuman strength, putting you at risk for bodily harm
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychotic and/or violent behavior
  • Dangerously high body temperatures of 105 degrees plus
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Permanent brain or psychological damage
  • Suicide

People high on flakka have tried to kick down doors, thought people to be chasing them, and in one case in Broward County, a man impaled himself on a fence that he was trying to climb – outside of the police station. Other people have been seen jumping on car rooftops and wandering naked along major highways in traffic. A story in Vice called them “flakka zombies.”

Flakka Addiction Treatment at Cornerstone Recovery Center

Flakka psychosis is extremely dangerous, and we urge taking the user immediately to the closest emergency room.

At Cornerstone, we offer flakka addiction treatment. We create a customized treatment plan tailored to a client’s needs, personality, and situation. Options include a 12-step program, SMART® Recovery, and Co-occurring Mental Health Program.

If you or someone you know is struggling with synthetic drug use or another addiction, call Cornerstone Recovery Center today at 1-888-711-0354 or contact us for a confidential discussion about the many options that are available.