Fort Lauderdale

“It Was the Worst, Scariest Feeling”: Flakka Survivor Shares Story

A South Florida woman who jumped off a bridge after taking flakka is sharing her story in hopes of warning others about the dangers of the new synthetic drug. 

"I had paranoia, I was scared, I was seeing things and hearing things," said Stephanie. The Broward Sheriff's Office is sharing her story in an effort to educate others about the designer drug, which has been blamed for at least 18 deaths in Broward County since September, according to the medical examiner. 

Stephanie said she’s been an alcoholic and a drug addict since age 13. After a recent relapse on flakka, she ended up at the the Broward Sheriff’s Office Equine Therapy Program. In the video she shares her story while standing next to a horse and Don Meanis, the director of the program. 

“It was the worst, scariest feeling I’ve ever had and I’ve done a lot of drugs in my life,” Stephanie said.

Like so many flakka users, Stephanie said didn’t even know she was smoking the drug. “I was given a marijuana joint and after smoking it I was told I smoked flakka,” she said.

While high on the drug she wound up at an abandoned house used for prostitution in Pompano Beach. 

"They were all hooked on the drug,” she said.

Flakka was used to keep the woman high and in a routine each night, she explained.

“They would give them some flakka and they would go out to the truck stop and prostitute and come back with money for more flakka,” Stephanie said.

If Stephanie and the other women didn’t return with the money, she said there were threats of bodily injury. 

Stephanie’s paranoia eventually caused her to run away and jump off a bridge.

“I wound up jumping off a bridge in Fort Lauderdale and once I hit the water I felt like I could breathe under water,” she said.

Somehow she was pulled out and woke up in the hospital. But her battle with the drug continues. 

“Since then I’ve had seizures while in the hospital and I have to take medication now to prevent them," she said. "And this has been 60 days since I used the drug flakka.”

Police hope people who hear Stephanie's story will be discouraged from taking the drug. 

Officials say the number of flakka cases continue to rise in South Florida. For frequently asked questions about flakka from Broward County, click here.

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