Zom­bie drug scare is dis­missed

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA PETERSEN

FLAKKA, com­monly known as the “Zom­bie” drug, has had so­cial me­dia in a wor­ried frenzy as un­founded claims of vic­tims con­tinue to spread fear.

Last week, there were claims that flakka was be­ing dis­trib­uted in the West­ern Cape and that eight chil­dren were ad­mit­ted to Ron­de­bosch Med­i­cal Cen­tre for eat­ing sweets laced with the drug.

Lynn Moon­samy, Ron­de­bosch Med­i­cal Cen­tre spokes­woman, said the claims were un­founded.

“We are aware What­sapp mes­sage. hoax.”

Po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain FC van Wyk, said: “We have no record of any seizure or ar­rest as yet in the West­ern Cape.”

Dr Henk Tem­mingh, of UCT’s psy­chi­atric depart­ment, said flakka was one of sev­eral syn­thetic cathi­none and am­phet­a­mine-like stim­u­lant drugs.

“World­wide, not much is known about how com­monly it is used as very few cases of ‘flakka use’ are ver­i­fied by re­li­able drug test­ing. Some ec­stasy users have tested pos­i­tive for flakka, of­ten un­aware that they had in­gested it to­gether with ec­stasy, with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any un­ex­pected ef­fects.

“Like metham­phetamine (tik) and co­caine it leads to a re­lease of dopamine and no­ra­drenaline.”

Tem­mingh said al­though flakka can be con­tained in cap­sules if crushed, it is gen­er­ally dis­trib­uted in white or pink crys­tals.

“Among ha­bit­ual drug users, it has been re­ported to be used in repet­i­tive binges over short du­ra­tions of time, which may be as­so­ci­ated with sleep de­pri­va­tion and what has been de­scribed as an ex­cited delir­ium, mean­ing a men­tal state of the It is a char­ac­terised by al­tered lev­els of con­scious­ness and aware­ness – drowsi­ness al­ter­nat­ing with height­ened arousal – as well as vis­ual hal­lu­ci­na­tions, of­ten of in­trud­ers, sub­se­quent in­tense anx­i­ety and ag­gres­sive re­ac­tions. Dis­or­gan­ised speech and be­hav­iour is also com­mon dur­ing in­tox­i­ca­tion.”

The “Zom­bie” ref­er­ence to the drug, he ex­plained, came about after two cases were re­ported in Florida in the US, of two men be­ing in­volved in grue­some mur­ders while under the in­flu­ence of flakka.

How­ever, he said the men tested neg­a­tive for the drug.

Some of the phys­i­cal ef­fects, he said, in­clude ab­nor­mal heart rates, high blood pres­sures, raised tem­per­a­tures, ap­petite sup­pres­sion, sweat­ing, mus­cle spasms and teeth grind­ing and jaw clench­ing.

Pro­vin­cial health spokesper­son Mark van der Heever said they were not aware of any cases in­volv­ing the drug.

“I have not seen any pa­tients who have re­ported us­ing this drug in the Cape Town area.”

There have been claims on so­cial me­dia that th­ese sweets as well as some oth­ers are laced with the flakka drug.

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