Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Is new drug Flakka really wreaking havoc in Spokane?

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 11:48 AM

Relax already, there is no evidence the new drug Flakka is actually in Spokane. The Spokane Police Department and KREM 2 are mostly just speculating. Flakka has been getting blamed for everything lately.

“[Flakka is] not something that’s currently on our radar as an emerging threat to public health in Spokane,” Spokane Regional Health District Public Information Officer Kim Papich tells the Inlander.

So why did the police department and KREM 2 start worrying about Flakka?

Well, last week the Spokane Police Department circulated this informative, er, article about Flakka.

Is new drug Flakka really wreaking havoc in Spokane?
This is your eyebrow on Flakka! Also, corrosive Flakka crystals spilling from a bottle.

An excerpt from the article: "Forget bath salts! Flakka is the new drug of choice in Florida and it’s <sic> side effects are downright terrifying. Given that the drug causes users to believe they have superhuman strength and induces paranoid delusions, you won’t be surprised to hear that the designer drug is starting to make crime headlines. (As if Florida needed anything to make it weirder.) Brace yourself."

THIS IS WHERE THE SPOKANE POLICE DEPARTMENT GOT THEIR INFORMATION. However, SPD's Information Officer Teresa Fuller says the department hasn’t reached out to any of the police departments in Florida to verify the information from The Inlander did, though, and they are definitely concerned about Flakka down there, though the scope of the problem is unclear.

Lt. Dan Zsido of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says last year his department seized 12 kilos of alpha-PVP from a trafficker who had ordered it from China thinking it was the popular club drug molly. That freaked Zsido and his colleagues out because the club-kid set looking to buy MDMA are likely not prepared for the Flakka experience and are therefore even more likely to act all crazy on the drug. Last month Zsido pulled those drugs out of evidence to show some members of the media only to find that the corrosive chemical crystals had eaten through the plastic bag.

“Just imagine someone putting that kind of substance in their body," says Zsido. "They think it’ll do something positive, but it’s all negative."

Zsido says his department hasn’t really encountered the drug at the user level, though, besides a few instances of “excited delirium” where Flakka could be a factor. Or not. He’s also concerned about a litany of other synthetic and research chemical type drugs and says he is happy to educate other police departments concerned about new drugs.

Still worried Flakka is coming? Here’s everything you need to know to prepare:

When did Flakka become a problem in Spokane?

It hasn't. Fuller says narcotics officers haven’t seized any. There have just been one or more instances where people were acting crazy and exhibiting “superhuman strength” and had to be taken to the hospital.

“They’ve been overheating, or exhibiting superhuman strength,” says Fuller. “When we get there to deal with them, it’s hard to tell with the quick interactions on the street where it's hard to know what’s going on with the person. It could be several different drugs on board, we haven’t specifically seen Flakka, but there’s a good chance it’s here already.”

What is Flakka?
"Flakka is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant that is usually made from the chemical alpha-PVP, a synthetic version of the stimulant cathinone - which is the same class of chemical used to make bath salts," says Drug Enforcement Agency Spokeswoman Jodie Underwood.

How do users do Flakka? You can vape it, you can snort it, you can smoke it, and you can eat it. You can even absorb it through your skin. Any way, really, including accidentally.

What is it like to be on Flakka?
“The duration of the effects of Flakka can last as few as three to four hours, but can also linger for several days,” says Underwood. “A practice known as 'snacking,' which is taking more Flakka while already high, often leads to serious health complications such as being in a state of excited delirium. This state often includes hyperthermia (a very high temperature), hallucinations, extreme strength, paranoia, excessive sweating and manic energy.”

Should anyone try Flakka, ever? In all cases, no. "This drug is very dangerous. Users of this drug are essentially putting a loaded gun in their mouth," says Underwood. 

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