It is difficult to imagine an illegal narcotic in South Florida that can have a more powerful impact than crack cocaine, yet the new designer drug flakka has hit the streets with a vengeance. First recognized as an "epidemic" in mid-2014, Homeland Security already has a drug enforcement unit specifically devoted to it and United Way of Broward County has set up a multi-agency task force to address the health and chemical dependency problems it has caused individuals and families.
There have been more than 60 deaths in South Florida and Central Florida attributed to the drug and hospital emergency rooms are beginning to see frequent patients reporting vital signs that are dangerously out of the normal range. Beyond the deaths and physical health problems that can result from a single dose, the narcotic is powerfully addictive. So powerful, in fact, that the director of JC Recovery House, in Hollywood, Florida, says that more than 20 percent of the treatment slots are taken by flakka addicts, with many more turned away because of the low recovery rate among users.