Flakka: The New Drug That’s More Dangerous Than Cocaine

In August 2016, police found 19-year-old Florida State University student trying to bite off part of the face of a man he’d allegedly just stabbed to death. It took four sheriff’s deputies and a police dog to subdue the shirtless teenager, who’d also apparently stabbed the man’s wife to death at their home in Jupiter, Florida. There’s no evidence that the kid knew the victims and he had no criminal record. He’s currently on a respirator in life-threatening condition.

While the Martin County Sheriff’s office is still awaiting full toxicology results, they suspect that the student overdosed on the drug flakka, because he exhibited some of the telltale signs, like abnormal strength, removal of clothing, and making animal sounds. But what exactly is flakka?

The newest, most dangerous illegal drug now has a name: its called flakka. In some parts of the country, it also goes by “gravel” because of its white crystal chunks that have been compared to aquarium gravel. Flakka gets its name from Spanish slang for a beautiful woman (“la flaca”), contains a chemical that is a close cousin to MDPV, a key ingredient in “bath salts.” These chemicals bind and thwart molecules on the surface of neurons that normally keep the levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, in check.

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The man-made drug causes a high similar to cocaine. But flakka has the potential to be much more dangerous than cocaine. Here’s why:

A small overdose of the drug, which can be smoked, injected, snorted or injected, can lead to a range of extreme symptoms: “excited delirium,” as experts call it, marked by violent behavior; spikes in body temperature (105 degrees and higher); paranoia. Probably what has brought flakka the most attention is that it gives users what feels like “super strength” and the anger and fury of someone like the Incredible Hulk.

Like a lot illegal synthetic drugs, the bulk of flakka seems to come from China and is either sold over the Internet or through gas stations or other dealers. A dose can go for as little as $3 to $5, which makes it a cheap alternative to cocaine. Dealers often target young and poor people and also try to enlist homeless people to buy and sell

Flakka stories are have been rolling in. In 2015, A man in South Florida who…

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