In early November, a strange item on the police blotter appeared in Sullivan, Missouri when four people began making a public spectacle of themselves as they broke into several buildings, removed their clothes and went as far as to shower themselves in soda water. Other reports say they were also barking like dogs and yelling incoherences in the town. One business even reported having lost over one thousand dollars after it was determined they had broken in and knocked over one of the establishment’s cash registers. “Some are scared, some are just surprised something like this is happening here. For the most part it’s a really quiet town,” commented Alec Ockrassa, general manager of the affected Sullivan Bowl. Two people were arrested, and others in the group were taken to a local hospital; police have identified a total of four people involved in the weekend incident.
While police have been unable to test the suspects, the authorities believe that the people were under the influence of a mixture of methamphetamine and flakka. Flakka is a manmade drug that often has extreme side effects, including strange behaviors such as those exhibited by the group in Sullivan. For example, removal of clothing is common in publicized reports of the drug’s effects, attributed by some to the drug’s tendency to raise the user’s body temperature. Other effects include hyper-stimulation, paranoia, delusions and an increase in aggression . Due to the increase in body temperature, extreme cases have resulted in heart or kidney damage. Flakka is very similar in chemical makeup to “bath salts” and has a similar appearance. Flakka usually comes in white or pink crystals and has a strong odor. Flakka can be taken in a variety of ways, including snorting, injection, vapor or even just eating the substance.
Flakka is rapidly increased in popularity due to its low price compared to other illicit drugs. In fact, flakka is 10 times stronger than cocaine. For perspective on how enticing that is to low-income drug users, an average price for a gram of cocaine is $62, while a hit of flakka can go for five dollars. “The high is pretty high, and getting off takes longer,” explains Dr. Indra Cidambi, medical director of Center for Network Therapy. Flakka is also said to serve as an aphrodisiac, giving the user an increased sex drive. However, the aphrodisiacal effects of flakka are believed to quickly plummet the more often the drug is used. The DEA classified flakka as a controlled substance, although it’s thought that making it illegal wouldn’t outright help matters, as flakka was developed as a cheaper, temporarily legal alternative to MDMA, which was banned.