Southern Florida is a highly desired tourist destination. The weather is always warm, the views are breathtaking, and there are always endless opportunities for entertainment. However, Florida (specifically southern Florida) has seen a significant increase in drug abuse and substance-related deaths. Southern Florida is home to many street drugs and is often the first to see new forms of harmful substances. The newest street drug, Flakka, is an especially dangerous one that has already claimed hundreds of lives.
The New Dangerous Drug
According to 7 News Miami, Flakka is made up of a substance called carfentanil and acts as an opiate. The dangerous carfentanil ingredient is a tranquilizer that is often used in sedating very large wild animals. The ingredient boasts very powerful effects, often up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Some people are even mixing it with other common street drugs, including cocaine and heroin for an even stronger effect.
An Overdose is Usually a Death Sentence
The ingredient carfentanil itself can be dangerous, but adding it to other dangerous drugs only intensifies the dangers. In most cases, once someone has experienced an overdose, it is too late to make it to the nearest hospital. For this reason, Miami and other southern Florida authorities are worried about the existence of this new drug.
The newness of the drug is also contributing to the problematic outcomes. Users are not aware of the potency of the drug, often taking large amounts at once. The strength of the carfentanil can be dangerous in even extremely small amounts. Most users do not realize how powerful the drug is until it is too late. Once an overdose occurs, the damage is already done, and little can be done.
Cheap and Easy to Access
The particularly dangerous problem with controlling Flakka is that it tends to be a very affordable drug. Those with drug addictions to more expensive drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, may turn to Flakka to achieve the same high when funds are low. Drug dealers may also offer the cheap drug to those low-income buyers who cannot afford the traditional street drugs. A user of Flakka can also obtain a high with any preferred method, injected, smoked, orally, or even snorted. The flexibility of the drug is appealing to many southern Florida residents and may make the epidemic even worse.
An Old Drug Turned New
Although the term “flakka” and the sudden increase in use are somewhat new, the drug’s ingredients have actually been around for many years. According to the Broward Sun Sentinel, a popular southern Florida news source, the primary stimulant found in Flakka, Alpha-PVP actually emerged in the 1960s.
The Alpha-PVP ingredient is commonly produced in pharmaceutical industries all over the world. Loose regulations in previous years allowed many shipments of the stimulant to make it to the United States. Lawmakers noticed an issue and added Alpha-PVP to the government’s controlled substance list in 2014, but large quantities have already found their way into many drug suppliers’ hands.
Permanent Life Effects
Even if someone who uses, or has used Flakka does not overdose, they are likely to experience multiple systematic lifelong effects. Dr. John Cunha, a physician in southern Florida has done extensive research on the drug after the outbreak. He has compared usage of Flakka and its stimulant ingredients to a runner, following a marathon. The body will begin to break down muscle tissue, decomposing, and ridding the body of it into the bloodstream. This decomposition can lead to kidney problems and even death.
The euphoric high that is achieved with the drug Flakka can also lead to additional problems. Users may experience periods of delusion and extreme adrenaline, which often leads to poor decisions. They may act violently and may find themselves in legal and medical trouble. This drug not only terrorizes the streets of southern Florida but also terrorizes the individual, leaving them with permanent consequences.
Difficulty Controlling the Problem
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (2011), southern Florida already struggles with high occurrence rates of both drug abuse and drug trafficking. The city of Miami is well known for its increase and significant abuse of illegal drugs. The city tends to be a melting pot, with people from all over the world, contributing to the drug trafficking and abuse issue. When a new drug, such as Flakka, is introduced to an already problematic drug area, the hopes of controlling it are diminished.
The Expected Future of this New Drug
Although Flakka rates tend to increase, decrease, and then rise again, southern Florida law officials and medical professionals are keeping an eye out for this new, dangerous drug. They are closely monitoring drug overdoses and the trafficking of new drugs into the country. New cases are reported to the U.S. Department of Justice for further tracking. The ingredients of other new drugs are also closely monitored, in the event that the drug Flakka returns even stronger, under a new name.
If you are struggling with your sobriety or someone you know is struggling with a drug addiction, consider getting the help that you need. If you have tried or considered trying one of these dangerous and life-threatening drugs, please reach out for help at The Treatment Center Outpatient Services at (844)211-7944.