By GRACE BERNARD
Since 2014, the designer drug flakka has silently terrorized the streets of South Florida. With the number of users rising throughout the U.S., flakka needs national media attention now more than ever.
Flakka is a highly addictive synthetic drug. According to drugsabuse.gov, side effects include paranoia, hyperstimulation, and hallucinations that can lead to “violent aggression and self-injury. The drug has been linked to deaths by suicide and heart attack.”
Other side effects include super-human strength, a likely result of an adrenaline rush. Also users are known to strip naked due to a massive rise in body temperatures associated with the drugs consumption.
Flakka’s biggest threat is that the U.S. population is under the assumption that the drug’s usage is contained to South Florida, where it is by far the most concentrated. Because of this, news media coverage has been vastly limited to local South Florida news organizations such as The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post, and The Sun Sentinel.
Flakka usage is spreading quickly and the lack of media coverage leaves many people in danger, particularly young people in poor urban neighborhoods. Flakka is particularly accessible to this group because it’s so cheap. Without any education from the national press, thousands of people are in danger. According to Forbes.com, flakka usage has spread to Chicago, Texas, Kentucky and Ohio. The drug is only growing more popular, especially with the lack of education nationwide.
One example of the grave disparities in flakka’s news media coverage compared to other drugs was in early 2014 when the DEA officially categorized it as a Schedule 1 drug. Despite the importance of this, the news did not make any major national headlines.
Less traditional forms of media have been more prominent in the coverage of the drug. YouTube has a variety of videos about flakka. Some videos were educational, while the majority were recordings of people high on the drug. These videos had thousands of views, with some of them even having millions. The population clearly has an interest in flakka and is seeking out more information.
The need for public education about flakka is evident. While flakka is not a nationwide issue yet, it is already well on its way. The duty is on the news media to provide coverage about this silent killer because they’re the best equipped to handle the potential crisis.