New highly addictive drug targets teens

Emergency room doctors treating young people hooked on Flakka

By Melanie Lawson - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There is a new drug on the streets and teens are the target. It's called Flakka and it's highly addictive. Emergency room doctors and first responders in South Florida say they're seeing an alarming rise in the number of young people getting hooked.

Kat, who wants to remain anonymous, talks about the drug that landed him here in detox.

"The people that normally smoke crack don't want crack . This is the new crack this is what's going to stop crack, says Kat".

He had uncontrollable shaking and cold sweats. But he knows this drug could have killed him.

Addictive and dangerous, on the streets, its called Flakka. It's smoked or vaped and is the newest evolution in bath salts. Even paramedics, who've seen it all, say this drug is scary. The calls come in as trouble breathing, chest pains and patients who seem mentally unstable.

Mathew Schaefer with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue talks about patients on Flakka.

"Their words are incoherent their body language is just not really normal off the charts and not making sense with anything they are doing," says Schaefer.

Flakka comes from the Khat plant grown in East Africa and Arabia. The plant produces Cathinode an Amphetamine which gives patients an immediate high.

The drug is available over the internet and comes in from China chemists are constantly changing it's ingredients making it hard for law enforcement to prosecute dealers and even harder for doctors to treat its users.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Dober says Flakka is so dangerous because it's unpredictable.

"The real danger in Flakka is you don't know what you're really getting. There is no consistency, no reliability, and so you may get something that could be deadly," says Dober.

Dr. Dober points out your behavior can take a dangerous turn, fast.

"There's a lot of psychosis that goes with it. There's a lot of violence. They get a little aggressive with us the cops or with the hospital staff when we drop them off," says Dober.

Kat is trying to break his addiction to Flakka. It's not easy besides the shaking and sweating Kat is paralyzed with anxiety and has painful arthritis like effects in his joints. His message: don't try Flakka not even once.

"Its always going to be a temptation its going to ruin your life. Guaranteed I lost everything anybody could," says Kat.

Flakka is mostly used by young men and is hard for medical professionals to screen for because a urine test does not pick it up.

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