Synthetic Drugs, synthetic Cannabinoids, are also known as: spice, k2, no more Mr. nice guy, fake weed, Yucatan fire, skunk, moon rocks, and hundreds of others. Made up of broken down plant material, synthetics, is not like marijuana. It is made of powerful chemicals called Cannabimictrics that are mixed with or sprayed on plant material before being processed into tight, colorful packages.  These chemicals are very, very dangerous and incredibly harmful to the body. Even as a legal alternate to marijuana the labels often display a message of ‘not for human consumption’. A recently new synthetic drug has been causing a string of obscure happenings around the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area. Flakka is a new synthetic drug that causing havoc. Not much is known about the drug, but it proving to be quite dangerous.

Flakka

The technical name for Flakka is alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone. There are no concrete answers to why the drug is called Flakka, but some believe it is derived from the Spanish word flaca meaning skinny, this could be because the it suppresses hunger. Recent reports state that the drug is more addictive than and powerful than bath salts. Like bath salts Flakka has been the cause of several cases of erratic, violent, and strange behavior. The drug floods the brain with chemicals in the mood-regulating parts. The chemicals stay in the brain longer than other drugs, which can cause serious long-term even permanent damage. Like other synthetics it is similar to, Flakka comes from China for a very cheap price. It is most commonly the next stage or replacement for bath salts; as they become illegal.

Cases of crazy behavior include: one man allegedly high on Flakka tried to break into a police station by kicking down the door, another man high on Flakka was fleeing the police and impaled himself on a fence, and another ran naked through the streets before being arrested. Florida seems to be hit the hardest by the Flakka ‘bug’, where some hospitalizations are reaching several a day.

Flakka is also referred to on the street as gravel because of its physical appearance. This man made drug creates a feeling similar to cocaine, but is more similar to bath salts. The danger in the drug is that it is difficult to control the exact amount taken. The tiniest bit more than necessary could mean the difference between getting high and dying. The drug is smoked, injected, snorted or ingested. The experience has been described as excited delirium, but is characterized by violent behavior, spikes in body temperature, and paranoia. What gives the drug so much popularity is the idea it gives users the strength and fury of a super heroin.

New research has discovered that the drug could be equally addictive to bath salts because it contains the same primary chemical MDPV. That makes this drug a very good stimulant with a worse addiction liability than methamphetamines. The study set up a lab experiment with mice. The mice could hit a level to self-inject themselves with either methamphetamines or Flakka. They repeatedly and more and more frequently chose to give themselves each drug. The scientists concluded that the drug is equally addictive and dangerous. Temporary bands have been placed on the drug, but companies are capable of working around those restrictions; like bath salts and other synthetics have done.

Bath Salts

To better understanding of bath salts could help to clear up much of the unknown of Flakka. Bath salts refer to a family of synthetic drugs that contain chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which is found in the khat plant. Epsom Salt, a kind of bath salt, is used to soften water or give it a certain smell. Synthetic drug manufacturers use a label like ‘Bath Salts’ to disguise their product. They normally take the form of white crystalline powder. They are sold in small packages labeled not for human consumption. It is often marketed as ‘Plant food’ or ‘Jewelry Cleaner’ and sold in gas stations, head shops, or on the internet. Bath salts are consumed orally, inhaled, or injected. The worst episodes involving bath salts result from injection. The way they affect the brain is still relatively unknown, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, but the chemical properties are similar to amphetamines as well as to MDMA. The drug energizes and agitates the user, which is similar to cocaine and amphetamines. The drugs raise the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in brain circuits that regulate reward and movement. A surge of dopamine, ‘hit’ of bath salts, results in a feeling of euphoria and increased activity. Similar increases in the transmitter or epinephrine can raise heart rate and blood pressure. These drugs are sold as cheap substitutes for drugs like ecstasy and cocaine. The level of MDPV a common synthetic cathinone found in hospitalized patients was a result of bath salt ingestion, which raises dopamine levels like cocaine but 10 times more potent. The hallucination effects of the drug are similar to MDMA or LSD, which is caused by the raised levels of serotonin.

Statistics

In a 2012 survey eleven percent of high school students had used synthetic weed in the past year. Of those eleven percent, fourteen percent were male and eight percent female. There were 11,406 emergency room visits that year relating to synthetic drug abuse. Three fourths of those visits were from youth adults and adolescents ages twelve to twenty-nine. Of these visits twenty-two and a half percent were females and the other seventy-seven and a half percent male. These numbers are rapidly increasing because of the easy accessibility of the drug. Drug Enforcement Agency officials state that millions upon millions are being poured into terrorist organizations from the revenue of synthetics. “Project synergy” has collected $15 million in cash and assets, as well as, in 35 states, 49 cities, and five countries. The harmful effects of this drug had started to affect this country in 2009.

Signs and Symptoms of Synthetic Drug Abuse

Mental Symptoms of Synthetic Drug Abuse

-hallucinations
-suicidal tendencies
-homicidal tendencies
-delusions
-aggression
-paranoia

Physical Symptoms of Synthetic Drug Abuse
-chest pain
-aggression
-heart attack
-over heating (to the point of clothing removal)
-seizures
-restlessness
-inability to speak
-self-destructive behavior-hitting your head or body against objects to inflict pain
-heart palpitations