By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In Addiction Recovery, Street Drug Encyclopedia
Posted June 15, 2015
Flakka is rumored to get its name from the Spanish slang for “beautiful woman” but is anything but beautiful. The level of unpredictable and violent behavior, plus the rising death toll caused by this designer drug brings it to the forefront of concern for parents and law enforcement in South Florida.
The Facts on Flakka
What is Flakka?
Flakka, a dangerous synthetic cathinone drug called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone, is a powerful stimulant that tests as alpha-PDP in labs. It is known as ‘gravel’ or ‘$5 insanity’ on the street. A crystalline substance resembling aquarium gravel or rock candy, it’s ingredients put it in the same family as crystal meth and bath salts. This man-made drug is generally created in labs overseas and sold to dealers in South Florida. It can also be purchased over the Internet and has been found in gas stations ranging between $3 and $5, which makes it a cheap alternative to cocaine and crystal meth.
Currently, Florida seems to be the hotbed for the drug, with hospitalizations directly related to it’s use occurring daily in Broward County.
How is Flakka Used?
Flakka can be injected, snorted, smoked with marijuana or ingested, and is quickly gaining popularity through e-cigarette use.
What are the Side Effects of Flakka?
The side effects of Flakka are extremely unpredictable. It is marked by hallucinations, psychosis, excited delirium, anxiety, paranoia, combative behavior, superhuman strength and rapid heartbeat. Spikes in body temperature (105 degrees and higher) give users a feeling of super human strength one minute and the feeling of burning alive the next. The psychotic behavior has brought media attention to users, with one South Florida resident breaking down hurricane-proof doors at a police station, a Melbourne girl running through the streets screaming that she was Satan, and another user, a Brevard County man, claiming that he was Thor while attempting to have sex with a tree. This man was tasered repeatedly by police, but simply pulled the prongs off of his body and proceeded to punch the officer.
The Dangers of Flakka
Jim Hall, a drug abuse epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University, reports that Flakka is highly dangerous. “Just a little difference in how much is consumed can be the difference between getting high and dying. It’s that critical.”
There are long term dangers as well. Although a typical Flakka high generally lasts between one and four hours, it is feared that the neurological damage can be long term or even permanent.
Another critical side effect of the drug is on the kidneys. Because it raises the body temperature to such alarming temperatures, survivors can find themselves on dialysis for the rest of their lives.
Where Does Flakka Come From?
Like many synthetic drugs, the bulk of Flakka is being imported from India, Pakistan, and China. Once it arrives in the United States, dealers often target the poor and already disadvantaged with this cheap alternative to bath salts and crystal meth.
Is Flakka Addictive?
A study published in Psychopharmacology sheds light on the addictive nature of Flakka. “Our data show that Flakka is as potent as MDPV, making it arguably a worse addiction liability than methamphetamine,” said co-author of the study, Tobin Dickerson, a researcher at the Scripps Research Institute.
Is Flakka Legal?
Although the Drug Enforcement Administration has placed a temporary ban on the drug, manufacturers generally get around these bans with labels stating, “not for human consumption.” As we all know, dealers will continue to cook up “legal” concoctions of different chemical compounds that have not yet been banned.
Awareness of the dangers of Flakka should be the real deterrent for now.
If you or someone you know is currently struggling with the deadly cycle of drug or alcohol addiction, give The Shores Treatment and Recovery a call. We can help you break free from addiction and take the steps toward the new life you deserve.