Is it Candy or Drugs? Flakka is a Dangerous Drug

Hi Loves! I hope everyone is having a good week! During a narcotics investigation earlier this week, Police in Miami-Dade County came across something they’d never seen before – gummy bears laced with a deadly drug. After further investigation, they discovered that the gummy bears contained an extremely dangerous drug called Flakka. This relatively new street drug has been sweeping the state of Florida.  According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, there were a reported 670 criminal cases involving flakka in 2014 as compared to 2010 when there were no reported cases. It’s important to learn what this new drug is and discuss how we can prepare our children for peer pressure and exposure to highly addictive and dangerous drugs.

What is Flakka?

It is a synthetic drug made from a compound called alpha-PVP. It contains a chemical that is very similar to MDPV, a key ingredients in “bath salts.” If you don’t remember, “bath salts” was the drug being used in the infamous case of a man who attempted to eat another man’s face off in South Florida in 2012. Flakka is similar to cocaine and methamphetamines in that it prevents the re-uptake of dopamine and serotonin. It basically floods the brain with happy chemicals. It is these chemicals in the brain that give it’s users a euphoric feeling and heightened alertness. We have seen a dangerous rise in the use of flakka because it can sell for as cheap as $5 and has a longer lasting high.

Why is Flakka so dangerous?

Alpha-PVP is a type of stimulant commonly called an upper. The same chemicals in the brain which cause the euphoria also cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate. When ingested, flakka can cause delirium, delusions, hallucinations, aggression, and violent fits similar to those seen with methamphetamines. Flakka can also cause an increase in body temperature up to 105 degrees, which is why many users of the drug have been found naked or taking clothes off.  At this temperature, muscle break down can occur ultimately resulting in kidney failure.

How do I protect my child from this dangerous drug?

It is almost impossible to differentiate this drug laced gummy bear from sour patch kids. According to the police, the only difference between the flakka gummy bears and sour patch kids are that the drug laced gummy bears were individually wrapped and extremely sticky. This is dangerous not only because it is harder for law enforcement to find and control distribution, but more importantly because small children are easily tempted with candy. I know as parents we hate to give our children candy and try not to have it in our homes, but sometimes this makes it even more desirable. It is imperative to explain to our children the dangers of taking any candy or snacks from a stranger. I have taught my son that he should never take candy from a stranger and that he can always have candy at home if he really wants it (well not always haha).

Create a password system with your child.  Choose a password that is easy for him or her to remember. Let your children know that anyone who is picking them up from school or practice will absolutely know the password, and if anyone approaches them about a ride home or offers them candy or a snack, they are to immediately ask them for the password. Instruct your child that if they don’t know the password, they should run away and find an adult. Abductors are not looking to make a scene. When my mom or mother-in-law pick my son up from school, I always ask them to have Mason ask for the password just for practice. It is a simple and free way to help protect your child from abduction.

Although it is hard to discuss the dangers of drugs and peer pressure to small children, it is never too early to start exercises to strengthen individual thought processes and decision making. It is important for your kids to learn, even as a toddler, that we don’t do something just because our friends are doing it. As they get older, have open conversations with your child about the dangers of drugs and bullying.  This also helps create a relationship in which your child feels they can talk to you. Books are great education too. Do not wait until your child is 13 years old to start these discussion. Start earlier and slowly introduce it when they aren’t dealing with hormones and puberty. Of course, the most important thing is to get involved. Know who your child hangs out with, what they are doing on the internet, and what is going on at school. The earlier you know there is a problem, the better equipped you will be to help your child through it without them having to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

With internet and social media our children are more exposed and vulnerable than ever before. Open communication and surveillance are the keys to keeping our children safe. See you next Wednesday!

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