New Synthetic Drug Called 'Flakka' Is Way Crazier Than Bath Salts
A new synthetic drug that causes users to lose their minds has emerged in south Florida.
It's called flakka, and it's made from the same group of chemicals found in bath salts.
The meaning of the drug's name is still unclear, but it might come from a Hispanic slang word that signifies a "beautiful, elegant woman who charms all she meets," according to CBS News.
So far, its victims include a man who tried to break down the door of a Fort Lauderdale police precinct, one who impaled himself on a police station fence and yet another who stood on his Palm Beach County roof naked with a gun yelling, "I feel delusional, and I'm hallucinating!"
Flakka is made from a chemical called alpha-PVP.
This a synthetic version of cathinone, the stimulant made from the plants Somalians eat in the movie "Captain Phillips."
Their sensation and long-term effects are said to be comparable to high-grade crystal meth or cocaine, with the addition of kidney failure.
The crystal pebbles flakka comes in can be snorted, injected, smoked or ingested.
Dealers typically call the drug "gravel" because of its appearance.
Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Florida's Nova Southeastern University, told CBS News that flakka's high is the result of a massive stream of the hormone dopamine in the brain.
Normally when dopamine would be released, even naturally or even with other drugs, it then gets reuptaked -- it goes back to its original transmitting neuron. But in this case, its reuptake is blocked so it remains there.
Hall says flakka invokes an adrenaline rush mixed with hyperthermia, upping the body's temperature to around 105 degrees.
This can sometimes cause the user to tear off his or her clothes and run around like an insane person.
Then once they are restrained, if they don't receive immediate medical attention they can die.
Mixing cathinones with other drugs can also elevate heart rate to dangerous levels and induce violent behavior.
As of now, flakka only seems to have surfaced in Florida, Ohio and Texas.
But that might change once drug dealers are made aware of its financial potential.
Hall says that just a few thousand dollars can buy enough flakka to reap profits of up to $75,000.