Flakka is a new synthetic drug also known as gravel or the zombie drug. It’s related to a drug known as “bath salts”.
Bath salts are a synthetic form of chemical compounds known as cathinones. These cathinones can occur naturally as well, and are from a plant known as khat. This plant is native to certain areas of Africa and the Middle East.
Flakka is a synthetic, or man-made, form of cathinone and it’s official name is alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP). It received its nickname as the “zombie drug” because it creates a catatonic state in people who use it.
The effects flakka has on people who use it have never been seen in any other drug. Users of flakka are known to go on manic, zombie-like, violent fits of rage. Many times users don’t even know what they’ve done after they come down from their high.
Users can ingest flakka in a number of ways. It can be snorted, injected, smoked, and taken orally. The drug works by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine in the user’s brain.
Flakka in America
Flakka has been classified as a Schedule I substance by the DEA. This means that possessing the substance is a felony, and the substance is deemed to have no possible medical benefits. Being Schedule I also means that flakka is dangerous to use, likely to create substance abuse, and is not even safe for use under supervision of a medical professional. Psychological and physiological dependence is also likely with Schedule I substances.
Primarily, the manufacturing of flakka occurred overseas in China and Pakistan. However, since the drug has become more popular with young people, manufacturing operations have began to pop up in the United States.
Taking flakka is dangerous enough on its own. But, adding to the danger is the fact that flakka is largely unregulated. The manufacturing process is not controlled in any way, and ingredients can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Users may be purchasing “flakka” but they have no idea what they are actually purchasing. Oftentimes, what’s being sold is not pure alpha-PVP. Doses of flakka have been known to include things like crystal meth, methacathinone (MCAT), crystal meth, mephedrone, and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Manufacturers may also add sugar and gelatin to the drug to give it the look and taste of candy. This makes it even more dangerous for the younger demographic in America.
Effects of Flakka
When under the influence of flakka, users can expect to experience several of a long list of side effects. Users immediately feel a sense of euphoria and invincibility. They feel like nothing can hurt them, and they begin to lose their inhibitions. This puts them at risk to do and say things that they wouldn’t under normal circumstances.
Users can also experience increased anxiety and panic attacks. This can be accompanied by hallucinations, delirium, delusional behavior, thoughts of suicide, and psychosis.
The delirium associated with the drug can escalate to a state of hypoactive delirium. This brings on the “zombie-like” state associated with the drug. During this state, a person may be hallucinating, confused, delusional, and even unresponsive.
In addition to the psychological side effects, flakka can also cause physical side effects as well. Flakka users can experience a loss of appetite, change in sleep patterns, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and respiratory problems.
More serious physical symptoms may also occur. Kidney failure, muscle spasms, tremors, and seizures are all possible while taking flakka. The drug may also result in brain swelling. The swelling induced by the drug can also lead to significant neurological damage later on in life.
Signs of Use
Experts who have studied the effects of Flakka have identified several ways to determine if someone is under the influence of flakka.
Flakka users move in a “zombie-like” fashion. This has to do with the drug melting the fibers of their muscles into the bloodstream. This causes the muscles of the body to move uncontrollably. In fact, some users heads may drop below their shoulders, making them look more like a zombie character. People have compared their movements to a glitch in a video game.
Using this drug also makes people act in ways they would never normally act. Flakka rewires a person’s brain chemistry which can cause them to act like a completely different person. People high on the drug have been known to commit various crimes and even kill. This is because they have no control over their thoughts or actions.
Across various cases of flakka use, there was a common theme of users thinking that someone was chasing them. This heightened fear and paranoia, coupled with their loss of control over thoughts and actions, can be what causes them to behave irrationally and violently.
Researchers have also discovered that this drug is ten times stronger than cocaine. This means that the risk for overdose is exponentially higher. Scientists believe that taking just 0.1 of a gram of flakka can result in overdose.
Users taking just 0.1 grams of flakka have had body temperatures as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts have also coined a term called “$5 insanity”. The meaning behind this term is that $5 of flakka can cause a high similar to $80 worth of cocaine. This level of mania would make someone appear insane to a bystander.
There have been other signs of flakka use as well. People taking flakka have been known to not feel pain. They become fearless and violent, and flakka has also created a group of people experiencing paranoia and streaking. Flakka has also been known to give users super strength and make users suicidal.
What is more troubling is that this drug is available online. The modern age of the internet makes it easily accessible to teens throughout the world. This may be part of the reason that we haven’t seen a decrease in flakka use yet.
With a drug as powerful as flakka, withdrawal symptoms are all but guaranteed. For anyone looking to stop using, it shouldn’t be done on their own. A medically supervised rehab program would be the wisest choice, and a medical professional would probably have to taper you off of the drug in order for you to rehab safely.
Although it is a potent drug with the possibility of strong addiction, rehab is never impossible. Talk to your doctor, or a third party facility like Just Believe, to get resources on where to begin your road to recovery.