Flakka Hits Hard in West Palm Beach
The streets of West Palm Beach, Florida are starting to look a little too much like a scene from The Walking Dead as the dangerous synthetic drug, flakka, is becoming a favorite among locals as a way to get a super-charged high despite its tendency to turn users into aggressive, hallucinating “zombies.”
Flakka made it’s way to Florida in 2014 where it quickly gained popularity in Broward County and soon made it’s way to Palm Beach County. Law enforcement says its rampant use is the result of the statewide crackdown on pill mills and restrictions placed on prescription narcotics. Many users have a history of opiate abuse and are believed to turn to flakka as a cheap way to get their fix with does available online for less than $5.
What the Flakka?
Flakka is a synthetic cathinone a-Pyrrolidinovalerophenone Hydrochloride. There’s no one size fits all appearance when it comes to flakka with some doses resembling gravel in a pink, white or blue hues, much like methamphetamine, capsules and even gummy bears. Users often snort the drug, smoke it in a joint or inhale it with a vaporizer or electronic cigarette.
It comes as no surprise that a drug often cut with common household chemicals and rat poison is known for some a litany of unpleasant and dangerous side effects. Flakka seize hold of the users body while it’s synthetic chemicals raise body temperatures, increase heart rate, seizures, violent behavior and paranoia.
Superhuman Strength and Safety Concerns
“It’s a threat to people that are doing it. It’s a threat to the public because of the way the people can act, the strength, the damage,” said West Palm Beach Police Lt. Dennis Wrobbel. His words seem to ring true as the recent flakka related incidents in the city have been both bizarre and dangerous whether it’s drug deal gone bad that ended in two people shot to death or a naked man brandishing a gun from a rooftop while in a delusional state, hallucinating and attempting to kill himself.
Firefighters in West Palm Beach reportedly respond to a minimum of five incidents a day involving flakka.
Battalion Chief John Meskiel told West Palm Beach news channel, WPTV, about the time his deputies responded to a call where they were met by a 180 pound man who was so combative that it took six police officers and six firefighters to subdue him. “Dangerous stuff, very dangerous to users, dangerous to the people around them and definitely dangerous for PD and fire crews,” he said.
The superhuman strength flakka users are able to muster up is proving to be nearly as dangerous as the rampant use of the drug, according to police who say pepper spray and stun guns are fast becoming “ineffective” when used against people under the drugs spell. As a result area police are undergoing special training in an effort to learn new ways to respond and more successful ways of controlling users in a way that ensures the safety of all involved.
Palm Beach Fire Rescue is implementing a few new tricks of their own after many first responders have been injured while trying to subdue flakka users. According to Meskiel, medication that can be quickly be injected or sprayed up the user’s nose are now being carried in the hope of reducing injuries. “I think it’s a better technique for all the patients as well as the first responders,” he said.