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Flakka Addiction

Flakka, also referred to as ‘gravel’, has gained widespread infamy across the United States in recent years. South Florida has seen the largest concentration of the substance, but Flakka is rapidly gaining popularity among many street drug addicts. Flakka is a relatively new synthetic substance and little remains known about its origins. Flakka remains unregulated throughout many parts of the U.S.

However, research into Flakka has proven that it is highly addictive and can, in many cases, be fatal to users. Compared to ‘bath salts’, and often marketed as a cheaper alternative to methamphetamine and cocaine, Flakka has become the drug of choice for those users seeking a euphoric or energy stimulant. Flakka can be consumed in a variety of ways, including ingestion, snorting, injection or through e-cigarettes (‘vaping’).

Flakka’s active ingredient, alpha-PVP, is a synthetic chemical compound which remains unstable and very dangerous. Alpha-PVP acts as a dopamine uptake inhibitor. Excess dopamine in the system can induce a sense of pleasure and euphoria in the individual.

Flakka addiction has been reported with a variety of side-affects and adverse behaviors. Flakka users have reported increased aggression, paranoia, and hallucinations, resulting in many users to disengage from reality and to act out on these hallucinatory visions. Continued use Flakka, and the eventual addiction to the substance, has led many users to experience increased stress-levels, including high blood pressure, and to report continued and increasing emotional instability.

Research on Flakka remains limited at present, but the long-term affects of the drug have begun to appear. Prolonged abuse and addiction to Flakka have led to psychosis and violent episodes, muscle tissue damage, heart arrhythmias, and even death.

Although Flakka addiction can be particularly devastating, rehabilitation centers continue to offer programs that can address the problem, no matter how severe the case.

Some may recall hearing about Silk Road, the brainchild of start up entrepreneur, Ross Ulbricht, his billion dollar operation peddling illegal drugs from a website he created. Transactions were made using a virtual currency called BitCoin and whatever a buyer wanted was mailed to their address in the vein of Amazon.com. After a lengthy two year investigation Silk Road, the online open drug market was shut down and Ulbricht was found guilty of narcotics charges and money laundering conspiracy.

Disturbingly, websites similar to Silk Road are still up and running. Anyone with a bank account or a credit card number can obtain any kind of high they desire by clicking a mouse. One might ask how this is possible considering the precedence set by the fall of Silk Road. Well, these sites don’t offer or sell illegal drugs.

With graphics of sophisticated professionals wearing lab coats peering into microscopes and holding up test tubes websites such as rechemlabs and lsresearchchems.com invoke an appearance of big time legitimate pharmaceutical companies. They deal in research chemicals, supposedly to be used for research and development and labeled as, “not for human consumption.” Technically these substances aren’t illegal, so they’re unregulated, yet they can produce the same effects that illegal drugs and controlled prescription drugs do. They’re often stronger, so the danger of overdosing is greater. For example, Etizolam, a substance with an effect similar to Ativan and other benzodiazepines has been reported as being ten times as potent as Valium. This particular substance has been available for purchase from rechemlabs.

Many research chemicals have hallucinogenic effects. Some have stimulant or amphetamine-like effects, or one might come across a drug like Bromadol, an opioid 10,000 times stronger than morphine, active in the 1/100 of a milligram range. Needless to say, experimenting with such a substance is a death sentence.

Not so long ago bath salts became a horror story in the news with the bizarre report of a homeless man in Miami eating another man’s face back in 2012. At the time mephedrone, a drug that’s been compared to ecstasy, speed and cocaine, was a typical research chemical sold in stores under the guise of “bath salts.” Now, looking on the internet, there is easy access to an array of chemicals that have the same or a similar effect on people. As fast as law enforcement becomes aware of a new dangerous drug, chemists are tweaking the chemical structures of existing drugs, synthesizing something technically legal that produces the same high.

How can a problem substance that doesn’t exist yet be regulated? How can awareness be raised about drugs that haven’t been created yet, but may be invented tomorrow or the next day? How can this situation be approached? Research chemicals aren’t going away. There is easy money to be made. However, some solutions need to be found or accounts of flesh eating zombies on bath salts and maniacs on alpha-PDP (Flakka) will continue to pop up on the evening news.