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Chances are you probably haven’t heard of it yet. It’s surfacing in the news and several states are seeing surges in its use. Flakka, or alpha-PVP (alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone), first appeared in 2013 and has made its presence known particularly in Florida in recent months.

Flakka is an illegal synthetic stimulant drug. In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) added flakka to its illegal controlled substances list. This Schedule-1 substance is defined as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. That being said, flakka is so new that no one knows what type of long-term effects it can cause.

As quickly as it’s permeating the U.S., law enforcement agencies are struggling to keep up. What’s making the surge hard to combat is how the drug is obtained. Users are buying flakka online from overseas, and some are even finding it in their local gas stations. Authorities believe the synthetic drug is being created in labs and shipped from China. It’s highly addictive – allegedly more than heroin. Though it’s similar to meth, it’s much less expensive; one dose averages about $5.

Flakka comes with its own risks and dangerous combinations of side effects. It creates in the user an “excited delirium” that involves hyperstimulation of the brain and body. Body temperature spikes (+105° F), delusions, hallucinations, combativeness, violent behavior, and adrenaline-fueled strength are common among users. The effects can last anywhere from mere hours to multiple days.

It’s been reported that the euphoria flakka causes lasts longer than cocaine, but it also triggers a racing heart rate and aggression. Because of the lingering effect flakka has on the kidneys, overdose survivors may need to seek lifelong dialysis. Many users experience significant injury (and, in some cases, death) with the use of flakka because it’s just as highly unregulated as it is addictive. Its unknown potency and the fact that is has no constant concentration are what make it especially dangerous.

Prevention is crucial, as it can eliminate the need for intervention down the road. The best policy is to get the word out, alerting society to the many significant psychological and physical risks that flakka use presents. On a similar note, 3rd Millennium Classrooms’ online course Other Drugs offers a unique approach at intervention for individuals who have been charged with drug violations. 

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