Broward County has a serious problem. It’s called flakka and it’s getting worse. In 2011, the state of Florida had a single case of flakka detection in a crime lab; in 2014, Broward County alone had 477 cases.
And second place wasn’t even close. Chicago’s Cook County had the next closest, with 212 – less than half of Broward’s incidents.
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Flakka Drug Problem
A cheap, powerful, dangerous drug
Broward’s flakka drug issue has become so prolific that the county even has its own subject matter expert. Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University, has been featured in more than a dozen articles on flakka in the past year, including pieces published in Time magazine and The New York Times.
In them, Hall described the psychotic effects and health hazards of the synthetic drug, and how its rise in popularity has become a real issue in South Florida.
“It’s probably the worst [drug problem] I have seen since the peak of crack cocaine,” he told The New York Times. “Rather than a drug, it’s really a poison.”
The effects of the flakka drug include a psychotic-like state, where users experience superhuman strength, hallucinations and violent episodes, often requiring four or five officers to restrain them. Body temperatures can rise to over 105 degrees, causing what’s called “excited delirium.” A scenario that requires immediate medical attention and even then can result in death.
To make matters worse, flakka is available – in many cases, legally – for about $5, making it a highly dangerous, highly accessible drug.
Designed for addiction
The current compound is essentially designed to get people hooked, and to do it legally, says Hall. “Our supposition is that the original concept was to design it so it would be technically not illegal,” he said. “It appears they are now looking to also design the molecule to be even more potent and more addictive. Addiction is good for sales.”
Broward fights back
As flakka infiltrates the streets of Fort Lauderdale and surrounding cities, Broward County is aiming to make unprecedented changes in the judicial system to combat its influence. Until now, there has been a primary problem with so-called designer drugs like flakka: they’re synthetic.
Once a specific compound becomes illegal, a new compound is quickly designed to replace it. One that is technically legal and can be marketed to the same set of users, promising similar highs. This creates an unending cycle of reemerging drugs that quickly replace the newly banned ones.
But new legislation hopes to make headway against the issue. In early January, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi recommended the passage of the 2016 Florida Designer Drugs Enforcement Act, which bans synthetic cathinones, synthetic opioids and synthetic cannabinoids. The law could potentially cover as many as 1,000 different chemical compounds, a landmark piece of legislation in the fight against flakka.
Flakka is a widely publicized, nationally reported problem happening in South Florida. But not every type of addiction receives such large-scale attention. In fact, many addictions happen behind closed doors, out of sight and far away from the public eye. If you’re facing a personal struggle with addiction. Or if you’re looking for care for a loved one who is, you don’t have to go it alone. The specialists at The Watershed can help, and we’re here 24/7. Call anytime: 1-800-861-1768.Tags: designer drugs, flakka, krokodil