Drug abuse remains a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States that threatens to unravel the fabric of society through addiction and crime.
Three recent trends in the world of drugs underscore the strength and persistence of that insidious plague.
The first is the emergence of flakka, sometimes called “$5 insanity.” The synthetic designer drug is also known as gravel and is a close relative of Ecstasy and bath salts. It is made in countries such as China and Pakistan and can be bought by mail order with relative ease.
Flakka is usually smoked using electronic cigarettes, which are popular with the younger generation and give off no odor. Flakka is also snorted, swallowed or injected.
It is a cheap high and initially gives a feeling of heightened awareness, strength and sensitivity. Once the high wears off, paranoia sets in and anything can happen, including hallucinations and violent outbursts.
Testing for flakka can be difficult due to constant changes in its chemical makeup.
Next is the ongoing heroin scourge. The drug of choice for violent traffickers with ties to criminal organizations, heroin use leaves behind it a trail of guns, violence and death in America’s urban areas.
Overdose deaths are becoming increasingly common. Narcotics experts say the recent higher demand for heroin is associated with growing prescription drug abuse, especially opiod medications that have a legitimate medical application.
Heroin can be more potent, cheaper and easier to acquire than prescription drugs. Because of its purity, it can be smoked or snorted, avoiding the evils of injections.
Then we have fentanyl, a Schedule II narcotic used as an analgesic and anesthetic. It is the most potent opiod in the medical field and potentially deadly, even at low dosages.
Fentanyl’s euphoric effects are similar to heroin and morphine. Users need to be aware that it can be absorbed through the skin and accidentally inhaled in powder form.
Mexican drug trafficking organizations are finding fentanyl a profitable product.
The fentanyl problem is not confined to the United States. Its abuse has also burgeoned in Russia, Ukraine, Sweden and Denmark. Mexican authorities have seized fentanyl labs there, and law enforcement officials say that the precursor chemicals came from companies in Mexico, Germany, Japan, and China.