Emerging Drug Trends

Emerging Drugs


Flakka, is a new synthetic cathinone drug popular in Florida. Flakka, also known as Gravel or Alpha- PVP is sold in the form of white or pink crystals that are foul-smelling. Users can eat, snort, inject or vaporize Flakka in a e-cigarette device. Due to the quick absorption into the bloodstream, users who vaporize Flakka are at a high risk for overdosing. Excited delirium has been reported as a side effect from using. This includes hyper-stimulation, paranoia, and hallucinations. Excessive strength and violent aggression have also been observed in people who are under the influence of Flakka. Other short term effects include raised body temperature. Effects from using can last one to several hours after use.


Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as black tar heroin. Heroin is used by either intravenous injection, snorted, or smoked. Common street names for heroin include; Black Tar, Norse, Smack Thunder and Dust. Heroin enters the brain and is converted back into morphine which binds rapidly to the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors control both the pleasure and pain sensations and our automatic processes such as breathing and arousal. The short term effects of heroin use include, feelings of a rush, clouded mental functioning, depressed respiration, nausea and vomiting. Long term effects include addiction, abscesses, infectious diseases (HIV, Hepatitis B and C) and liver and kidney diseases. Signs of a heroin overdose are shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma and possible death.

Bath salts

Bath salts are from a category of drugs known as cathinones. There are many names for bath salts such as Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, and Cloud Nine. Usually bath salts are sold as a white or brown powder which is packaged in small bags labeled as not for human consumption. This drug can be used orally, nasally or by intravenous injection. Effects of using bath salts including: racing heart, high blood pressure, chest pains, hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks.

Synthetic Marijuana

Spice, K2, and Fake Weed, are all common names for synthetic marijuana. This synthetic drug is composed of dried shredded plant material and chemical additives. The added chemicals are what give synthetic marijuana the psychoactive effects similar to marijuana. This drug is usually sold under the premise of being herbal incense and can include the phrase not for human consumption on the packaging. Spice is usually used by smoking but can also be used as an herbal infusion for drinking. Potential health effects include: hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, high blood pressure, chest pain and death.


Kratom is a tropical tree that is indigenous to many areas in Southeast Asia. Traditionally, Kratom has been used as a stimulant to native Thai farmers and laborers. In other areas of Southeast Asia Kratom has been used as an opium substitute when opium is not available and as a way to manage opioid withdraw symptoms. In small doses Kratom has been described as producing stimulant effects such as increased alertness, physical energy and sociable behavior. In larger doses Kratom has been known to create opiate and sedative effects. Effects usually occur within 10 minutes of consumption and can last up to 5 hours. Short term side effects can include nausea, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination and appetite loss. Long term side effects include anorexia, weight loss, insomnia and skin darkening. There have been cases were users have had episodes of psychosis including, hallucinations, delusions and confusion from using Kratom. Kratom is widely used as an herbal tea or by chewing Kratom leaves. Currently Kratom has not been scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act.


Hookah is an ancient practice that has roots tracing back to Persia and India. This practice has increased immensely in popularity among the youth, college students and young professional demographic in the past couple of years. Hookah bars and cafes have sprung up recently in many areas, especially areas that are densely populated with college students. A hookah is a water pipe that filters a tobacco mixture that has been heated by charcoal through a water chamber. The user then inhales the smoke through a tube and a mouthpiece. During an average hookah session lasting about an hour, a user will inhale an equivalent of 100 cigarettes worth of smoke. Due to the social nature, hookah pipes are usually shared by several people during a smoking session this increases the likelihood of spreading orally infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, herpes, influenza and hepatitis.


Palcohol is alcohol that has been freeze dried into powder form and then packaged into small packets. The powder is converted into a drink by combining five ounces of water and the powder. So far a rum, vodka and margarita version of Palcohol has been created. The packing for Palcohol is similar to that of an ordinary juice pack that kids drink. This type of packaging makes the substance look appealing and cool for youth and easy to conceal. Besides underage drinking of the product, another area for concern is that the substance could be snorted or injected resulting in a much quicker buzz. Effects from using Palcohol are similar to those who use traditional alcohol which includes: slurred speech, drowsiness, headaches, impaired judgement, and blackouts. Many states have already started to ban this substance these states include: Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont.


E-Cigarettes are battery operated devices that are used for delivering nicotine to users. Most devices contain three main parts; a cartridge to hold the e-cigarette liquid, a heating device, and a power source (battery). The devices work by puffing on the mouth piece which activates the heating element which then vaporizes the liquid. This creates an aerosol that is then inhaled by the user. The liquid for the devices is sold with or without nicotine and in a wide variety of flavors including: strawberry, cinnamon, coffee and many other candy and fruit flavors. Many people refer to the use of an e-cigarette as vaping. With the raise of popularity of vaping and the wide variety of flavors, e-cigarettes can be seen as cool by many youth. Some advertisers have marketed the use of e-cigarettes as healthier alternatives to traditional smoking, or as a smoking cessation device. These claims have not been verified yet by the Food and Administration (FDA). In Florida Cs for CS for SB 224, banned the dispensing or selling of any nicotine delivery devices to persons under the age of 18.

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