From the news desk

“Zombie drug” hits SA

A new drug has made its way to South Africa, with users displaying ‘zombie-like’ symptoms. While reports of ‘flakka’ being used in Australia and the United States have made the rounds, recent reports of users of the hallucinogenic drug in the city of Durban has placed authorities on alert. Footage of users in paranoid frenzies has made the rounds on social media, with the $5 Insanity” drug increasingly garnering concern.

Speaking to VOC, director of the Anti-Drug Forum (ADF) South Africa, Sam Pillay, explains that the origins of the highly additive synthetic stimulant is not known. The manufacturing of the drug was first reported in China in 2014.

Given the ‘zombie-like’ behaviour and violent symptoms of flakka, he says the drug is considered one of the worst drugs consumed.

“This is the worst drug in the world that one can experience, because of the nature of its affects. We saw this here, [where] we had two people who experienced this in Durban and that is what is so scary.”

Commenting on the exact contents of the drug, Pillay says that based on ADF’s own research, flakka falls within the category of a drug such as ecstasy, which improves the dopamine levels within the brain.

“Right now, we have not done our own toxicology yet. [But] we did get samples and it has been sent to the lab. We are awaiting those reports,” Pillay stated.

He says that when a test was conducted on an individual who had used flakka, the drug could not be picked-up on any of the known drug tests.

There remains no certainty about the active ingredient that has resulted in the symptoms displayed by users if the drugs.

“Looking at the US and the videos [that have surfaced], we have similar effects here. So, it will be the similar kind of chemicals that make it up when used here. But, we don’t know whether it is manufactured here or imported,” he elaborated.

Watch: Cedric Harvey searches for users of flakka in Durban

In terms of the physical appearance of flakka, Pillay notes that the drug looks like salt crystals, but can also be found to have a fine-salt appearance.

Flakka can be injected, snorted, inhaled, swallowed and diluted in drinks.

Symptoms to look out for are a drastic change in behaviour and dilated pupils.

“Blood pressure and temperature increases, and [flakka users] get agitated. The best way to describe it is ‘zombie-like’, where they flap their arms around…that’s when they have overdosed.”

The drug, which is said to cost in the same price range as cocaine, appears to be currently targeted at clubs.

While users of the drug have not been reported in Cape Town, Pillay urges parents to adopt a proactive response to drug usage and educate their children.

“It is every parent’s responsibilities to be talking to their children on an on-going basis, not just when flakka hits the market; how to be aware on an on-gong basis to understand addiction, peer pressure and experimentation,” he continued. VOC 91.3fm

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