A new designer drug that is similar to bath salts has been linked to multiple cases of unusual and uncontrollable behaviors in south Florida. Nicknamed “flakka,” the drug is typically made from alpha-PVP, a synthetic version of the amphetamine-like stimulant cathinone and is in the same class of chemical used to produce the synthetic drug “bath salts.” Epidemiologists note that flakka causes the brain to flood with dopamine and then blocks dopamine reuptake producing a state of euphoria in the user. Some users take additional flakka while already high (known as “snacking”) or combine with other drugs; this often leads to serious health problems including rapid heart rate, agitation, extreme aggression, and psychosis. Cathinone can also cause melting of muscle tissue and the release of muscle fibers into the blood stream, known as rhabdomyolysis, and kidney failure.
Jim Hall, from Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, FL, added that cases of excited delirium associated with flakka use have been reported, where the body enters a state of hyperthermia and the individuals engage in psychotic behaviors, like taking off clothes or having adrenaline-like strength. Hall also explained that designer drugs like flakka often contain other unknown chemicals and compounds, leaving the users with questions as to what they’re taking or the strength of the drug. There were a total of 126 reported deaths tied to synthetic cathinone in Florida during 2013.
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