Joburg safe from flakka – for now

The so-called ‘zombie drug’, flakka, has hit two South African cities and authorities have confirmed that it has not hit Johannesburg as yet.

IOL reported that flakka hit Durban and once its users were in a stable condition, police in the area questioned them and later an alleged flakka peddler was arrested. Shortly after, a young man was suspected to have survived an overdose of the drug in Pretoria.

The City of Johannesburg’s emergency management services, Robert Mulauzi, said that he has not seen or heard of any cases in Johannesburg as yet.

Flakka, which is also referred to as ‘gravel’ is the street name for alpha-Pyrrolidinovalerophenone. The chemical is a synthetic form of cathinone or ‘khat’. In small doses, the drug is said to be similar to cocaine-like behavioural changes and can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected.

According to the many online reports and videos of the drug, its symptoms include:

  • Extreme agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Aberrant behaviour
  • Hyperactivity
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Heightened awareness
  • High body temperature
  • Psychosis (especially for those who have a predisposition to psychotic states).

It is said that flakka is supposed to put the user in an extreme state of euphoria, however, the slightest dosage miscalculation will send a user into a zombie-like state.

Our sister newspaper, Pretoria East Rekord, reported that a possible flakka overdose took place in the area on 9 November. The young man suspected of having overdosed on the drug was said to be soaking wet, had a high heart rate and constantly hit his head against the hospital bed.
Test results from the hospital he was admitted to have yet to confirm whether the young man had indeed taken the drug.

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Roxy de Villiers

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