The Newest Designer Drug Parents Need to Know About: Flakka
Experts are saying that Flakka, a new designer drug luring some young Americans, is stronger and more addictive than other synthetic drugs. The use of this new drug has been primarily reported in Florida, Texas, and Ohio, but its growing popularity is sending it quickly to other states.
Its name comes from “la flaca,” a clubbing term among Latinos for a skinny, pretty girl. On the street, it’s also called “gravel” because it comes in crystalline rock form, which can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or used in an e-cigarette. The media has called it “the insanity drug,” because Flakka causes bizarre behavior. Parents need to warn their teens about this dangerous drug.
Flakka is a new synthetic amphetamine-like stimulant. Synthetic drugs are substances that are created by humans (not grown such as marijuana or opium) and produced entirely from chemical reactions. LSD is a synthetic drug, as well as “Molly” or “bath salts” which are more recent drugs of choice. Flakka’s popularity is surging over these previous synthetic drugs because it’s more potent and cheaper. Flakka costs only about $5 a dose. As with other synthetic drugs, it’s impossible to know the potency of the drug you are purchasing and whether it is truly “pure” or mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy.
Flakka triggers severe anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations that can lead to violent aggression and self-injury. The duration of the effects of the drug can last as few as 3-4 hours, but can also linger for several days. The drug is highly addictive, both from a physical as well as a psychological perspective. Vaporizing, a common method of taking the drug through an e-cigarette, sends it very quickly into the bloodstream, which makes it particularly easy to overdose. Experts say that in high doses, it can cause an “excited delirium,” during which a user’s body temperature can rise to as high as 105 degrees. It can also create heart problems and life-threatening kidney failure. Additionally, the drug causes users to act in bizarre ways. Reported incidents of Flakka users include:
- A man rushes out of his house, ripping his clothes off in a rage and screaming violently. Five police officers are required to take him down as he exhibits superhuman strength. He is sweating, paranoid, delusional and hallucinating about seeing objects in front of him.
- A man ran naked in the streets, claiming people had stolen all of his clothes.
- A man impaled himself on a spiked fence.
- A man tried to kick in the police station door, claiming that cars were chasing him.
Studies show that parents are a strong influencer on teen decision-making. Talk to your teens about avoiding drug use and explain the negative consequences. Inform them about Flakka and the dangers involved. Then, be sure to give your teens ideas for how to say “no” to drugs but still save face with their peers. When drugs are readily available at parties, your teen will likely feel peer pressure to use them as a way to fit in. Suggest these ways to stay safe:
- Find friends who don’t need drugs to party or find friends that like to do activities other than party, such as a trip to the movies or playing a volleyball game.
- Check out who’ll be at a party and what the plans are before you commit to something that may turn out to be an awkward situation for you.
- Stop to think before you make decisions that you might regret.
- Have an answer prepared for when a peer asks you to use substances. Some people find it helps to say “no” without giving an explanation, while others think offering their reasons works better, such as “I have a game tomorrow,” “my uncle died from drinking,” “I already got in major trouble for drinking once, I can’t do it again,” or “my coach would kill me.”