Karen Corcoran-Walsh, owner of Inspirations for Youth and Families teen rehab and the Cove Center for Recovery adult drug treatment center was interviewed January 15th by A Plus Pictures, for a documentary on flakka, to be aired on either Netflix, HBO, MTV, or Lionsgate Films. One of the most pressing questions involved yesterdays acquittal of a Miami man who played a supporting drug role in the first-ever flakka trial.
Here is an excerpt from the interview.
The Examiner’s: What were your thoughts when a federal jury acquitted a Miami-Dade drug addict charged with assisting a convicted importer of the notorious Chinese-made synthetic drug known as flakka?
Corcoran-Walsh – I am pleased South Florida law enforcement and the federal court system are getting aggressive with legal action against flakka dealers. While the end result of the trial was not favorable to the on-going fight to rid South Florida of one of the most despicable drugs that we have seen on our very own streets – it is a move in the right direction. I think the message is clear that flakka drug dealers are not immune from prosecution and potential incarceration. Hopefully this will deter others from entertaining any thoughts in engaging in this despicable act.
Examiner: What is your knowledge regarding synthetic drugs like flakka and reported incidences in Broward County?
Karen Corcoran-Walsh: As an owner of two drug rehabs in Fort Lauderdale our knowledge of synthetic drugs is extensive. Prior to the flakka epidemic, which peaked in 2015 and now apparently is ebbing since the Chinese’ government intervention; we treated numerous synthetic drugs at both of our treatment centers ranging from K2 to Molly.
We have a court liaison, who visits the Broward County Court House every week to offer people facing criminal charges an alternative to enter our facility instead through the Marchman Act. The court liason has kept me apprised on the status of flakka on the street and claims it can not be found.
When the flakka outbreak started in Pompano Beach in 2013, it was considered “flak city,” and ground zero for widespread flakka abuse and drug dealing in the nation. Broward County cities Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach were caught off-guard and did not know how to handle it. Hospitals were literally turning down people under the influence of flakka and many were incarcerated. The Cove Center soon became the de facto drug rehab to successfully treat flakka addicts.
Examiner: Can you provide a profile of a person likely to engage in flakka use based on referrals to your center?
KCW: I was recently interviewed by ABC news about who I think is the typical flakka user and they were under the impression that it was mainly a drug used by homeless people. While there are a significant number of people that use flakka who fit this profile; there are whole other demographic groups including upper middle-class that indulge in the drug. This was the case on several occasion with the people we treated for flakka at our facility.
In fact, one of our clients, who just completed our program for flakka addiction comes from a well to do family and initially tried flakka out of curiosity. Since it is a highly addictive drug, it didn’t take long for him to become a regular user who squatted in an abandoned home. During his recovery, he was featured in a Miami Herald investigative report and we flew him to a national television show to be interviewed about his experiences with flakka. In my view it would be irresponsible to isolate one demographic group that is more apt to use flakka.
Examiner: What is your understanding of Flakka and its effects?
Flakka is an extremely dangerous drug in so many ways and has proven to be elusive for law enforcement to curb its rampant use – especially in Broward County. First of all it is very difficult to detect in a drug test. Secondly, it is extremely inexpensive which is why it’s nicknamed “five dollar insanity.”
As far as the physical effects are concerned; the drug drastically dehydrates the body to the point where we have heard on one occasion a flakka user’s body temperature reached 106 degrees and his organs were literally cooked before he died from organ failure. Other effects can include psychosis, permanent brain damage, and death.
We have heard on one occasion a flakka user’s body temperature reached 106 degrees and his organs were literally cooked before he died from organ failure.
Examiner: What is your organizational protocol in dealing with flakka addiction?
KCW: To stave off flakka’s immediate danger, a patient undergoing a drug-induced panic attack or psychotic episode will be brought to a detox facility and be prescribed anti-anxiety or anti-psychotic medicine depending on the severity of the condition. That treatment helps lower the blood pressure, reduce agitation and limit psychosis immediately following flakka ingestion.
Once the flakka patient is stabilized, he or she is brought to our drug treatment facility to be assessed by both an internist and psychiatrist to determine their current physical condition and what is the proper longer term medication to prescribe to the client.
The flakka addict will then go through highly individualistic and extensive interpersonal therapy. The only difference between the treatment of flakka and other drugs is the medicine that is prescribed in order to restore the balance in their brain as well as stabilizing their mood. Otherwise, our highly-esteemed team of primary therapists determine the triggers that caused the addiction and provide them with the necessary coping skills to handle their addiction.
Examiner: Do you think we have seen the last of flakka in South Florida due to China’s ban of the drug?
Corcoran-Walsh – I wish I could be more optimistic, but I have seen this play out too many times, where someone overseas manufacturers a slight variation of an illegal synthetic drug – making it legal – and then proceeds to peddle it into the United States.