Flakka, the Zombie Drug, Effects

Sometimes known as the zombie drug or mistaken for bath salts, Flakka is a type of new psychoactive substance (NPS) that falls into the category of designer drugs. These synthetic drugs are becoming more popular across the United States as they are easy to get, very affordable, and have stimulating effects.

Flakka became well-known because of several shocking and violent events. In one famous scenario, a person bit someone else’s face, leading to the nickname “zombie drug” for the substance.

You might expect that its violent effects would stop people from using Flakka. However, during its peak popularity, emergency departments in Broward County, Florida, saw up to 30 Flakka overdose cases daily in 2014 and 2015. There were also at least 60 deaths linked directly to the drug.

Even with law enforcement and public health campaigns trying hard to stop it, Flakka and other new psychoactive substances keep spreading across the country, bringing harmful effects with them.

What Is Flakka?

Flakka, sometimes called gravel or zombie drug, is an unpredictable and dangerous man-made drug that causes extreme side effects and aggressive behavior. Flakka is the street name for the chemical alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone, called alpha-PVP for short.

Flakka is designed to imitate the stimulant effects of the khat plant but more closely resembles a combination of amphetamines, MDMA, and cocaine.

Many people use the terms Flakka and bath salts interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. While they are chemically similar and both belong to the group of designer drugs known as synthetic cathinones, they are not identical. They look and act so much alike that dealers and users often don’t worry about telling them apart.

Flakka is a drug that looks like white or pink crystals, like the small rocks used in aquariums and floral arrangements, leading to its nickname “gravel.” Even though it’s labeled “not for human consumption,” people use it in various ways, including swallowing, snorting, smoking, and even injecting it.

To prevent Flakka and similar drugs from entering the United States, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) put into place the Synthetic Drug Prevention Act (SDPA). This statute designates the components and completes versions of synthetic cathinones as Schedule I controlled substances, signifying they possess no medicinal value and bear a significant risk of addiction and abuse.

what is flakka made of

What Is Flakka Made Of?

The laboratories abroad that make and ship Flakka often tweak small ingredients to keep from being caught by the police. Even so, the main ingredient in Flakka is always alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), which is needed to create the drug’s effects.

As long as alpha-PVP is included, the creators of the drug aren’t specific about the other chemicals used. Researchers have found a variety of substances in synthetic cathinones, ranging from meth to gelatin powder to oral numbing cream.

Due to its ever-changing chemical makeup, each batch of Flakka can differ in appearance, strength, intended effects, and side effects.

Flakka Drug Effects

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) observe that the impacts of Flakka differ markedly from those of any previously studied drug. The most notable and disturbing outcome is the trance-like state it induces, earning it the name “zombie drug.”

The main ingredient in Flakka, alpha-PVP, interacts with brain neurotransmitters, triggering the release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals directly influence moods and emotions and also regulate biological processes, leading to various physical effects.

Users typically consume Flakka for the following effects:

  • Intense happiness
  • Enhanced awareness
  • Increased stimulation
  • Boosted energy levels
  • Amplified sense of power
  • Lowered inhibitions

These effects last between three to five hours, depending on the amount taken and the strength of the batch.

Unfortunately, the euphoria from Flakka doesn’t always mean calm or happy feelings. When large amounts are used, people can experience what researchers call excited euphoria or agitated delirium. This can lead to extreme side effects, including manic and violent behavior.

Flakka Side Effects

The extreme and strange side effects of Flakka are why the drug caught national attention in the United States. Two well-known incidents involved a Florida man breaking through hurricane-proof windows to enter a police station and a Florida woman running through traffic, claiming to be Satan.

Not every Flakka binge results in a psychotic break or headline-making behavior, but it’s always dangerous. The drug’s unpredictable and sometimes life-threatening side effects make each use risky. People with co-occurring disorders are especially at high risk for experiencing psychotic breaks and lasting mental health problems from using Flakka.

Its side effects can last for several days after the initial high. The length of these effects depends on the dose taken, the strength of the batch, and whether other drugs or alcohol were used simultaneously.

Consequences of Flakka use include:

  • Disorientation
  • Worry
  • Loss of hunger
  • Sudden fear episodes
  • Suspicion
  • False beliefs
  • Perspiration
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest discomfort
  • Severe psychosis
  • Overheating (extremely high body temperature)
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle contractions
  • Rigidity in arms and legs
  • Convulsions
  • Cardiac arrests
  • Heart attacks
  • Blood flow to the brain issues
  • Dehydration
  • Renal failure
  • Invasive thoughts
  • Perception of extraordinary strength
  • Long periods of absent-mindedness
  • Insensitivity to pain
  • Rash actions
  • Aggressive conduct
  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Comatose state
  • Mortality

Despite how severe some side effects sound, they can happen with just one use. When users experience excited delirium, they enter an almost manic state, pushing their bodies into overdrive, which can cause internal and sometimes irreversible damage.

flakka drug addiction treatment

Flakka Drug Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love struggles with using Flakka and bath salts, remember you’re not alone in this challenging journey. Help is available.

Our caring, licensed and experienced Northridge Addiction Treatment Center (NATC) team supports you through every step of your recovery journey. Addiction is a complex issue, and we meticulously address its underlying reasons, equipping you with the necessary resources to conquer it.

Northridge Addiction Treatment Center offers a private and peaceful residential treatment center for a new beginning in recovery, away from the triggers of substance abuse.

At NATC, we provide onsite medical detox with around-the-clock medical supervision to keep you safe through withdrawal symptoms and ensure a smooth start to your tailored treatment plan, designed to meet your specific needs and recovery goals.

Reach out to speak with one of our kind treatment specialists today. A fulfilling life, grounded in recovery, awaits you.

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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