Last Updated on by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
It’s the drug that is even more addictive than methamphetamine, yet offers a high with similar potency.
But for Flakka users, that high comes with a price. It’s been called the “zombie drug” and the “insanity drug.” Users have been reported to exhibit extremely erratic and outlandish behavior, causing harm to themselves and others.
Flakka is its street name, and it’s one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. If you or someone you know is at risk for developing an addiction to the drug, it’s vital to stop now before it’s too late.
Read on to learn some of the telltale signs of this harmful substance and what you can do to intervene.
What is Flakka?
Flakka is categorized as a “designer drug,” or a synthetic substance that has been manufactured to create an effect similar to illegal street drugs.
The practice of creating designer drugs has been around since the early 1920’s. Recently, however, these substances are becoming more dangerous to use. Creators have been making them with drugs not used in modern medicine.
Flakka is a designer drug made to be a stimulant with effects similar to cocaine or meth. It first gained notoriety in southern Florida, where it continues to plague the streets with devastating effects.
What is Flakka Made From?
Flakka is a synthetically produced cathinone commonly referred to as alpha-PVP. Like most designer drugs, it was originally made as a legal alternative to street drugs.
Flakka is a modern version of bath salts, a group of psychoactive synthetic drugs that continues to gain more members. As these drugs are outlawed, foreign labs continue to alter their chemical makeup so the resulting substance isn’t technically illegal.
Since the manufacturing of Flakka is not regulated, the actual ingredients and methods are unknown. This is especially dangerous for its users, who never know what they’re getting when they purchase the drug.
Like other stimulants, Flakka triggers a surge of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure center of the brain. Flakka also inhibits the reuptake of dopamine by the user’s brain cells, resulting in an intense, lasting feeling of euphoria.
A person who is currently using Flakka can display the following signs while high:
- Extreme sensations of euphoria
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased awareness/alertness
- Irregular or increased heart rate
- Aggressiveness or aggressive behavior
- A “dirty foot” smell when smoking Flakka
Depending on the chemical makeup of the drug, users can also experience extreme effects while high, such as delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. Like any designer drug, the effects can vary widely from one substance to another due to different chemical compounds.
Flakka Abuse Signs
Since Flakka is a very inexpensive drug, averaging as little as 5 dollars a hit, the most at-risk users are the homeless and serial drug abusers who lack the means to continue funding their addictions.
Because of its dangerously addictive properties, doing the drug once is on par with abuse. The mains signs are similar to methamphetamines or cocaine and can include the following:
- Extreme hyperactivity and unusually high levels of alertness
- Uncharacteristic levels of talkativeness
- Aggressive, erratic, or irrational behavior
- Confusion and disorientation
- Severe delirium and hallucinations
- Feelings of invulnerability and loss of inhibitions
- Sharp increases in body temperature
In the most extreme cases, users have displayed incredibly bizarre and sometimes homicidal behavior. People have been reported to completely lose their minds and act supernaturally possessed.
Other users have reported delusions involving a person or group of people pursuing them or trying to murder them. These and other similar hallucinations require immediate intervention, as that user quickly becomes a danger to themselves and those around them.
Flakka Withdrawal Symptoms
When users come down from a Flakka high, they are often left with extreme depression and fatigue symptoms that can be very difficult to cope with. This places them at very high risk of picking up the drug again to alleviate these symptoms.
Flakka users suffer a variety of other physical symptoms when going through withdrawal:
- Mood swings and extreme irritability
- Panic attacks
- Self-harm or self-mutilation
- Attempts or thoughts of suicide
- Anxiety and insomnia
- Heart palpitations or arrhythmia
It is vital that users of Flakka receive professional help when experiencing these symptoms, as they are often troubling enough to lead to a relapse.
Treatment for Flakka Abuse and Addiction
Aside from the numerous physical effects Flakka users suffer, there is also a significant mental and emotional toll that comes from taking the drug. Users may suffer from confusion or a lack of ability to accept what they did while high.
Because Flakka is a new drug, there is limited information when it comes to Flakka effects and treatment options. Alpha-PVP has had very few studies regarding how it affects our brains because it has only recently been introduced on the market.
Since the brain releases so much dopamine while high on Flakka, users must deal with a dopamine deficit until their body is able to make up for the imbalance. This is one of the major Flakka drug side effects and causes depression in the user. This major depression can be extremely difficult for the user to face on their own.
As with most addictions, it is important to explore what drove the user to become dependent. By examining it from a psychological standpoint, the user can receive help gaining the mental strength to pull through the Flakka drug side effects and get their life back.
Flakka is a drug that is even more dangerous than the methamphetamines it mimics. Its extremely addictive properties paired with dangerous Flakka drug side effects make it an extremely hazardous substance.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Flakka abuse and addiction, don’t lose hope. Recovery is possible with the right treatment and support.
Contact us today to learn more about the resources available to you when coping with Flakka abuse. There is hope for future recovery.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.