Most Media Reports about Flakka Aren’t True!
I’ve resisted writing this article because of all the media hype around Flakka. I don’t want to be a part of it. I view this type of exploitative, scare-mongering “reporting” as more harmful than good. I view this as more of a problem than any type of solution.
If you don’t believe me, go to Google and run a quick search for “Flakka.” You’ll find sensational headlines like “This Drug Makes People Kill Their Neighbors,” and all other sorts of madness.
I get it. A catchy title is a catchy title. I’ve certainly been guilty of overblowing my headlines before. I back those headlines up with fact though. There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding surrounding Flakka and how it’s reported in the news.
This has to stop. If it doesn’t, we’re going to end up with another “just say no” campaign. If the media, of which I’m a part, doesn’t start reporting accurately, then we’re going to end up with an ineffective and laughable campaign to stop Flakka abuse.
And then I read this. Okay, Vice isn’t always the best source. I 100% acknowledge that. Still, these numbers on the impact of Flakka in south Florida made me rethink writing about it.
So, without further ado, I’m going to offer you all a balance and true look at what Flakka is and, more importantly, how it’s impacting our community.
What the Hell is Flakka Anyway?
Okay, put on your science hats because for the next few paragraphs we’re going to get technical. I apologize in advance.
Flakka is the street name of a chemical called alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone. That’s a mouthful. Most researchers call it simply a-PVP. In addition to having the street name Flakka, it’s sometimes referred to as “gravel.”
A-PVP is a synthetic cathinone. This means it belongs to the same family of drugs as bath salts and all their chemical cousins. In fact, a-PVP is a chemical cousin to several popular varieties of bath salts (MDPV, pyrovalerone, and prolintane).
A-PVP has been around since the 1960’s. It was first synthesized as a research chemical and largely ignored. In fact, scientists don’t even fully understand how it works. That’s because almost no tests have been run on its effects in humans.
Researchers believe that a-PVP works like other synthetic cathinones. It’s thought to release large amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine and then blocks their reabsorption. Scientifically speaking, drugs that do this are called NDRI’s or norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors.
What about a-PVP’s effects? I mean, the overblown news reports can’t all be wrong…or can they? Well, some are right. A-PVP has caused at least one death. This was due to it being mixed with pentedrone, another synthetic cathinone.
A-PVP can certainly have some less deadly, though still alarming, side effects. Like all stimulants, it shoots blood pressure and heart rate through the roof. It can also cause something called excited delirium. This is a state characterized by hallucinations and paranoia. Excited delirium seems to be where most of the over-the-top news reports about a-PVP originate.
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Flakka’s Impact on South Florida
The extent of a-PVP abuse seems to be limited to south Florida, specifically Ft. Lauderdale and the surrounding area. This is where the name Flakka comes from. This is also where single hits of a-PVP are being sold for as little as five dollars. This is, in other words, the epicenter of the drug trend.
So, how has Flakka impacted these communities? How has Flakka impacted our community? After all, I’m writing this from Delray Beach, a town that’s recently been besieged by synthetic drugs of all stripes.
Well, according to the DEA (via Vice News) there were 1,706 synthetic cathinone “crime lab cases” in 2014 in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. This accounts for over half of all cases in Florida.
While there aren’t statistics for a-PVP alone, it’s safe to say the chemical was involved in some of these cases. So, how is Flakka impacting our community? The jury’s still out.
One thing is for sure though. We need a levelheaded response in place for a-PVP. We don’t need an all-out, “Flakka is the devil” response. That won’t accomplish anything. With a smart approach, a realistic and true-to-life approach, a-PVP abuse can be shut down before it goes any further.