We thought that zombies would only exist in movies and in an action series but the threat right now is real. And it is going to be hitting us very close to home because it is now masquerading as innocuously as can be – as our favorite candy. And we are not the only ones threatened by this – more so, our children who salivate and drool at the sight of candies.
Flakka is closely related to bath salts, another unsafe and illicit material that can be brought freely from apothecaries and drug stores in some countries. It seems that those who are addicts or are dependent on illicit drugs are now becoming braver because they are now assimilating their choice of drugs into the public system and consciousness. Bath salts are legally sold and flakka can even be bought cheaply in some Southeast Asian countries as long as you have a doctor’s prescription! And they’re selling it for a measly $1.50 for 20 pieces! And they’re becoming more common to the consciousness of the youth! That’s the thing that is pretty alarming!
Flakka causes hallucinations and seizures and can even be fatal if ingested in large doses. It is made from a compound known as alpha-PVP which is a close chemical cousin of cathinone – an amphetamine-like drug that is commonly found in the composition of bath salts. While cathinone has been declared illegal, alpha-PVP has not been tagged as such and is therefore legally peddled by merchants everywhere.
Flakka is basically an upper which stimulates the brain and the body thereby making it feel like it is in a constant state of bliss, of euphoria. It enhances the alertness of the person which also increases the wakefulness and makes the movement more pronounced – which are among the observable symptoms of people who have taken cocaine.
This drug causes a huge surge in dopamine – which is responsible for the blissful and euphoric feelings – the feeling of being “high” and an increase in norepinephrine – the chemical which results in the raise in heart rate and blood pressure and also makes the person quite alert.
Since it is an upper drug, it would always have an effect when the drug wears off. It usually results in the person being left depressed and oftentimes fatigued as if he has run a marathon. And since users do not want to feel this way, they would be craving for more of the drug so that they would be feeling ecstatic. And this would lead eventually to a cycle of addiction. And since the drug alters the brain chemistry, it would also need higher amounts of the drug to make it get the same level of high.
As a result, the person would need more and more of the drug and it may also lead to anxiety attacks, paranoia, hallucinations and may also lead to permanent kidney damage as well as muscular breakdown – making it uncontrollable. Seizures have also been identified as a side effect of the drug, sometimes resulting in shutting down of organs that lead to organ failure and eventual death.
What is alarming is that flakka is being pounded into fine grains which look like sugar and some unscrupulous people are using it to coat candies such as gummy bears and gummy animals. And we know that these candies prove to be irresistible to our children. It may even be mixed with liquids and other food products can also be dipped in it. So the threat is real – the problems and the struggle would be really, really, close to home.
Add to that another threat that is PCC, known also as prothrombin complex concentrate. It is a drug that is similar to flakka and is also being peddled unabashedly in some countries. It also causes problems such as hallucinations and seizures, side effects similar to flakka. However, the PCC also affect muscular integrity as it makes the muscles grow exponentially weaker.
PCC also affects the neural transmitters and if ingested in huge amounts (and it is possible because it is being crushed into powder as well, just like flakka), they would possibly cause death to the person. Since both crushed flakka and PCC closely resemble granulated sugar, the potential disasters are huge!
And if these drugs reach your shores, you would be in such a state that you would have to be on high alert as always because it would be pretty damaging to your loved ones. Right now, we have to ask our legislators to pass bills as well as ordinances and other laws which would curtail the sale and the legality of such agents in our shores. We must be proactive and have them prevent the arrival of the dangerous chemical in our shores.
In September 2017, PCC drugs were under the public’s spotlight following an incident where almost 50 residents of Kendari, Central Sulawesi, suffering adverse reactions similar to that caused by Flakka. Later report said the number of victims has reached over 100, with at least three deaths as reported by Kompas.com.