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The Dangers of Flakka: Everybody’s Worst Nightmare

The Dangers of Flakka: Everyone's Worst Nightmare

Gravel. Five-dollar insanity. The drug that gives you “superhuman strength”. If you’ve been paying attention to the news in the last year, you know that the latest but not-so-new street drug, Flakka, has been on everyone’s radar. Local, state, and federal law enforcement have been on alert for the deadly drug that has caused an uproar nationwide.
As pharmaceutical drugs are banned by the Federal Drug Administration in the United States, nothing stops chemists in foreign pharmaceutical labs from developing new chemical compounds or derivatives of banned synthetic drugs.
Although bath salts were banned in 2011, new synthetic drugs are always being created faster than law enforcement can keep up with. Although the chemical component in Flakka, alpha-PVP was made illegal in March 2014, different versions of it keep emerging.

So what is Flakka?

Flakka is a synthetic stimulant or “upper” that boosts feelings of euphoria, attention, alertness, and movement. The designer drug has a chemical component known as alpha-PVP, which mirrors the banned amphetamine, bath salts.
Bath salts have a chemical compound known as MDPV, which is derived from the synthetic cathinone class of drugs. Alpha-PVP is more of a “second generation bath salt” that is similar to MDPV in its chemical structure and how it affects the brain. Often, it is mixed with other drugs like methamphetamine and/or a benzodiazepine such as Klonopin.

Flakka’s Effect on the Brain

The chemical, alpha-PVP basically blocks the reuptake or transportation of two neurotransmitters; dopamine and norepinephrine. This blockage creates a buildup of more dopamine and norepinephrine than normal.
Basically, the brain gets too much release of pleasure, exceeding its natural release. It also stimulates the locomotor activity in the body, which increases movement and restlessness.

Flakka’s Psychological Effects

Like many “uppers”, the drug alters the brain chemistry and increases the drug abuser’s tolerance, which makes them use at higher, sometimes fatal doses. Flakka abusers often experience the following psychological effects:
• Heightened sense of euphoria
• Anxiety/increased alertness
• Delirium/extreme paranoia
• Extreme aggression or “super strength”
• Severe hallucinations

Flakka’s Physical Effects

As reported by multiple news stories, many abusers often experience the following physical effects:
• Rapid heartrate
• Erratic irrational behavior
• Hyperactivity/restlessness
• Hyperthermia/overheating (running around naked as a result)
• Sensitivity to pain and fatigue
• Seizures
• Death by overdose
Although the compound of alpha-PVP isn’t exactly new, more scientific research is being done by institutions like The Scripps Research Institute to determine the potency and effects of alpha-PVP versus MDPV and other stimulants.

The Nationwide Impact

It’s easy for those who can’t get their hands on Adderall or other prescription stimulants to get a cheap bag of Flakka for five dollars. More and more drug users are turning to Flakka because it is inexpensive and potent. The danger, as with all synthetic drugs, is that no one ever knows exactly what they are getting.
A high profile case from an overdose death from Flakka sparked nationwide attention at 2014’s Ultra Music Festival in Miami. A string of reports followed of a man running through the streets naked claiming he was being chased, a man viciously beating an elderly woman, a man trying to break into a police department, and another who tried to escape from cops but impaled himself on a fence.
The use of Flakka has spiked in Texas, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky; however, Broward County, Florida has seen an unusual spike in use with 477 reported cases in 2014 alone. That is over 55 percent of Florida’s 870 Flakka cases from 2014.

Current Protective Measures

There are numerous drug-testing kits and toxicology screening tests that can usually detect adulterants found in drugs like MDMA, however, alpha-PVP doesn’t show up in drug checking kits; therefore, Flakka cannot be detected.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency temporarily banned alpha-PVP and made it a Schedule I drug in March 2014, so alpha-PVP is now illegal. It’s expected that the ban will be made permanent when it expires in 2016. However, that doesn’t stop Flakka from being made with different chemical compounds or being sold as another commonly abused “designer drug”.


If you know someone who has been experimenting with Flakka, synthetic drugs or other drugs, call us today at 855-545-6777 or chat now. Our admissions counselors are glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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