Home / Health / One percent of American teenagers use flakka – but it could be more

One percent of American teenagers use flakka – but it could be more

"The key finding was that it is estimated that less than 1% of high school graduates used flakka in the past year," said Joseph Palamar, professor of public health at NYU Langone and lead author of the study Tuesday in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
The study, which according to Palamar is the first national study on flakka consumption, analyzed data from Monitoring the Future, an annual survey investigating drug use among high school students conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

The study found that 19.2% of students who reported using flakka the previous year had used more than 40 times. Those who knowingly used it were more likely to live off their parents and use other drugs.

"It is important that we can now draw attention to this dangerous drug," said Palamar. "We finally have prevalence estimates for a national sample that has not yet been done."

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In Castellanos' own research, only one in six samples actually contained flakka, even though users thought that was the case.

The stimulus, referred to as "poor man's cocaine" according to Castellanos, resulted in 80 deaths in Florida alone between September 2014 and December 2015. There were 2,000 emergency visits during this time related to its use in Broward County. 15% were people under 25 years. One of the youngest, according to the study, was a 13-year-old.

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Flakka, also known as pebble, belongs to the class of novels psychoactive substances, Castellanos said. Some related products are called bath salts. It can be smoked, injected or snorted.

"Although they are not like your salt salts, they sometimes look like this," he said. "These are all novel psychoactive substances, which means they are made chemically, they are imported, there are many variations, and there are different outbreaks and outbreaks over time."

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Flakka is also a stimulant. "People are getting really excited," said Castellanos. "This includes things like restlessness, effects on all of your body's typical systems, increased blood pressure, heart rate, sometimes even your temperature."

It has also become known for more serious reactions, including a man who broke hurricane doors after taking the drug and a woman walking the streets shouting that she was Satan.

"What really stands out about Flakka is the crazy behavior that is sometimes associated with its use," said Palamar. "It's bizarre and you'll even see that word in medical journals because there's no other way to describe it."

Although not everyone taking the drug has these reactions, Palamar still warned against its use.

"This is one thing that needs to be known: it does not affect anyone who uses it," he said. "It's a very dangerous drug, it's a very potent drug, it's just as effective as methamphetamine."

The journalist Carina Storrs contributed to this report.

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