“Flakka,” a new synthetic street drug, is spreading across the United States and has hit Western New York after its use was first reported in Florida.
A 41-year-old Livingston County man has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the unlawful possession and importation of flakka, WGRZ reported
. The man allegedly ordered three kilograms from China.
Flakka, also known as “gravel” and “insanity” in New York, is associated with the chemical “alpha-PVP,” which acts like an enhanced version of bath salts. The drug causes extreme hallucinations and can be lethal, according to WGRZ.
A man high on flakka in Fort Lauderdale reportedly bashed his head against the police department doors because he believed cars were chasing him. In Spokane, Washington, a man broke into an apartment screaming that he was covered in spiders. Several people even died from the drug in a single county in Florida, the station noted.
“The last thing we want to see on our streets is a brand new drug,” U.S. Attorney William Hochul told WGRZ, “which, frankly, is marketed as making you insane.”
It’s also inexpensive at $5 a hit, according to Latinos Post.
The drug’s effects are similar to those of cocaine, causing a release of dopamine and serotonin, providing the user with a feeling of euphoria. Symptoms include seizures, “superhuman” strength, and hyperthermia, according to Latinos Post.
“This is as close as we’ve come to a crack cocaine problem since 1995 in terms of the severe reactions, low prices, and that it’s available to young kids, and even homeless populations are now impacted,” Nova Southeastern University drug abuse epidemiologist Jim Hall told Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The difficulty with tracking the importation of flakka is that it comes from — as Hochul describes — “mad scientists” overseas, specifically China. Drug dealers order it via the Internet and then use commercial post to ship it inside the United States.
In the past year, Hochul said nine people have been prosecuted in Western New York for possession of the drug.
The drug is consumed several different ways, including snorting, mixing with food, drinking like tea, swallowing a pill, injecting, vaping, and inserting into the rectum.
“The best warnings we can give anyone — because of the dangerous health consequences, which can be fatal — is that please, don't start usage of this drug,” Hochul said. “We’ve already had enough carnage and devastation with prescription pills and heroin.”
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