Synthetic drugs have been hitting the streets of America for several years now. These drugs, sometimes called "designer drugs," are mad-made, unlike other drugs of abuse like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin that are plants or are refined from plants.
The latest drug to hit the streets is flakka, a man made stimulant that is also known as alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone, or Alpha PVP. Other nicknames include gravel and "$5 insanity." It takes the name flakka from the Spanish word for a skinny woman and the nickname gravel because, well, it resembles gravel.
Alpha PVP has been around for about 10 years, but it has been hitting the headlines lately in the American South. Poison control centers in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas have been receiving emergency calls about flakka. It is being blamed for 18 deaths in one Florida county.
The insanity nickname for Flakka is because users frequently act insane. Example? Insane like trying to break into a police department, which not one but two different flakka users tried to do in Fort Lauderdale. One of them ended up impaled on a fence. Users frequently overheat, which means there have been many reports of people tearing off their clothes and running naked through the streets.
As with other synthetic drugs, Flakka is coming in from China and other parts of Asia. Alpha-PVP is on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration list of controlled substances. It can be smoked, injected, snorted, mixed into food, mixed into a beverage, or smoked in an e-cigarette.
Because flakka is a powerful stimulant, it can cause feelings of euphoria and delirium. It can also cause agitation, hallucinations, and severe paranoia. Physical side effects include high blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat, and seizures. Internal body temperature may rise uncontrollably, with body temperatures as high as108 degrees being reported. Fevers this high can interfere with blood clotting and can lead to uncontrollable bleeding.