What Is the Flakka Drug?

Belonging to a class of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS), Flakka is a lab-created drug with extreme and often disturbing psychological and physical effects.

Many people in the United States first became familiar with the Flakka drug when a Florida man who took it suffered a psychotic break, attacked another man, and ate parts of his face. While that incident was extreme, Flakka addiction is serious, dangerous, and increasingly common.

Synthetic cathinones like Flakka are technically illegal, but that doesn’t prevent resourceful drug dealers from selling and marketing them as other substances to avoid legal detection.

Young people are especially vulnerable to synthetic drugs because they are cheap and widely available at gas stations and convenience stores, giving the false impression they are safer than other illicit drugs.

What Is Flakka?

Flakka is a man-made synthetic cathinone chemically similar to bath salts. Considered a designer drug and part of the class of new psychoactive substances (NPS), Flakka (alpha-PVP) mimics the amphetamine-like stimulant effects of the khat plant.

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists Flakka, among other synthetic cathinones, as a schedule I controlled substance because of the high potential for substance abuse and addiction with no possible medical benefits.

What Is Flakka Made of?

Underground chemists make Flakka with a process that binds the active ingredient α-pyrrolidinovalerophenone, a-PVP for short, to hydrochloride salt in crystal form. Synthetic drug makers frequently substitute active ingredients and additives to avoid detection from law enforcement, so each batch of Flakka is different.

Sold as a street drug in white or pink crystal form, users get high by swallowing, snorting, injecting, smoking, or vaping it. Some dealers add topical numbing agents like lidocaine, causing users to feel an instant numbing effect in the tissue it comes in contact with, like the gums, nose, or veins.

Street Names for Flakka

Street names for Flakka, which is slang for a-PVP, include:

  • La flaca
  • Gravel
  • Alpha-PVP
  • Five-dollar insanity
  • Devil’s drug
  • Zombie drug
street names for flakka

Effects of Flakka Use

The effects of Flakka use can be unpredictable and dangerous and last from three to four hours to days, depending on the potency of the batch, the person using it, and if other drugs and alcohol are present in the system.

Flakka is infamous for causing extreme physical and psychological effects, especially in people with co-occurring disorders.

Side effects of Flakka use include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Animated and disjointed speech
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased sex drive
  • Reduced appetite
  • Facial ticks
  • Twitching or jerking movements
  • Sweating
  • Intense staring or zoning out
  • Panic attacks
  • Disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperthermia or dangerously high body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Violent outbursts
  • Delusions of super-strength
  • Hallucinations
  • Urges to self-harm
  • Violence towards others
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Seizures

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) classifies the more extreme effects of Flakka as “excited delirium,” a condition similar to cocaine psychosis that causes psychotic breaks that can result in physical injuries and permanent brain damage or mental health conditions.

Long-Term Effects

Because it is a relatively new street drug, the full scope of long-term effects is unclear. However, the results are becoming apparent as more people seek medical advice after suffering health effects.

Flakka is chemically similar to amphetamine-like stimulants, and Flakka addiction follows the same escalating behaviors as cocaine addiction, meaning tolerance and repeated use take a toll physically and psychologically.

Known long-term effects of Flakka include:

  • Weightloss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Heart attacks
  • Liver damage
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Deteriorating muscle fiber
  • Narrowing blood vessels and arteries
  • Cognitive decline
  • Worsening mental health
  • Diminished speech capabilities
  • Loss of motor control
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Withdrawal
  • Persistent paranoia and psychosis

People on Flakka are also at risk of permanent harm caused by their excited delirium state, which can cause them to perform physical feats or irreversible self-harm acts. Even first-time users are at risk for long-term ramifications.

effects of flakka use

How Does Flakka Affect Your Brain?

Flakka floods the brain and central nervous system with feel-good chemicals. However, those feelings can quickly become confusion, anxiety, and psychosis, accompanied by dangerous physical side effects and behaviors.

Flakka interacts with three main chemicals in the brain: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are responsible for psychological feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and reward, but they also work throughout the central nervous system to control vital biological functions.

Flakka’s immediate and potent effects on the brain contribute to its high potential for addiction, even in first-time users. When it leaves the system, it causes intense cravings and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that make people seek it out to continue using it to avoid them, perpetuating the addiction cycle.

Treatment for Flakka Addiction and Substance Abuse in Northridge, Califonia

You are not alone despite how isolating and stigmatizing addiction can seem. Flakka addiction is complicated but can be overcome, especially with an experienced and compassionate team in your corner. Northridge Addiction Treatment Center strives to help you discover and reach your full potential free from substance abuse.

At NATC, we specialize in personalized treatment plans that address all aspects of your addiction. Our private, peaceful residential treatment center offers onsite medical detox to get you safely through withdrawal symptoms in a therapeutic, nurturing environment with 24-hour medical supervision and support.

Using dual diagnosis and medication-assisted treatment, we uncover and treat co-occurring disorders to begin improving your mental health and wellness, ensuring meaningful and lasting recovery.

The path to recovery is waiting for you. Reach out now to speak with one of our compassionate treatment experts that are eager to help.

Find Meaningful Recovery

Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.

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