Flakka is a street stimulant that is also a designer drug. It is in a class of drugs called α-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone or PVP. Flakka is a cathinone, which is a naturally occurring alkaloid that is found in shrubs. These types of drugs are created in clandestine labs that produce the same effects as stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. The purpose is to develop an analog similar to illegal drugs under a legal format. They do this to skirt the law and create addictive substances that are technically legal. These drugs are sold on what is called the gray market.
Due to their packaging and status, they are legal. They are sold as bath salts or plant food to get around the laws against selling drugs. These may be smart ways to beat the government, but it is an evil scheme to get unsuspecting individuals hooked. The drug has since been recognized by the federal government as a Schedule I drug.
What is Flakka?
Alpha-PVP or Flakka is chemically structured to be similar to amphetamines. It has also been regarded as a combination of methamphetamine and crack cocaine. Those two drugs individually can create havoc beyond comprehension in a users life, and something that can be compared as similar to both should say it all. Even though it was banned does not mean that someone who seeks the drug cannot gain access.
Flakka comes in a crystalline rock form that can be swallowed, snorted, injected, and even vaped. Those who consume the drug on a regular basis in high doses can run the risk of muscle fibers dissolving into their bloodstream. This results in uncontrollable movement and panic. There are powerful hallucinations that trigger a user’s fight or flight response. This is a very dangerous aspect of flakka consumption.
This pushes the user to be aggressive and often violent or take off running. Due to the disturbing nature of the effects of these drugs, it is necessary to inform individuals about the growing concern of this drug. There have been stories from Miami where a man ran out of his house ripping his clothes off in a rage after smoking a crystallized substance and required five police officers to apprehend him. He exhibited superhuman strength and was resistant to less lethal force. His behaviors were bizarre and described as paranoid, delusional, and hallucinating. This behavior is referred to as an excited delirium.
How Does Flakka Work?
Flakka is a relatively mysterious substance that we don’t know much about. One thing for certain, however, is that it is addictive and deadly. There have been indications that this deadly drug possesses characteristics that make it more addictive than methamphetamine. It works similarly to methamphetamine in that it stops your body’s natural process of removing dopamine. This is a classic norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor drug. The delusions associated with consumption as mentioned above can result in intense hallucinations.
Due to its close structure to drugs like meth and cocaine, flakka does boast the same traits that make those drugs highly addictive.
Ironically enough, the effect flakka brings on has been described as unpleasant, and most who try the drug rarely use it again. While everyone is different, it still could lead to dependence after prolonged use.
What are the Signs of Flakka Addiction?
While most drugs are difficult to stop in the early stages of addiction, flakka is a drug that produces more dramatic side effects after the drug is ingested. If you witness signs in either you or a loved one, this can indicate that there is a problem, and if you are worried that a substance use problem is starting to grow, you must know the signs. Signs that indicate someone is using flakka include:
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle spasms
- Tics and uncontrollable movement
If you have been using flakka continually and fear that a substance use disorder may be developing, you should consider professional addiction treatment. The first sign of a substance use disorder is tolerance. A tolerance refers to an increased dose of the drug to achieve the same effects that you had when use began. When the doses feel weaker and require more and more, this is an indicator that your body has become adapted to the drug.
When you continue to use despite these consequences, you run the risk of developing a chemical dependency on the drug. A dependence is when you require the drug to maintain normalcy in your life and will fall into withdrawals upon cessation. This can include uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms that affect mood and energy levels. Other common symptoms can include depression, insomnia, mood swings, irritability, suicidal thoughts, seizures, or heart arrhythmias.
In more severe cases, flakka can cause heart complications. This can occur during your time using or during withdrawal. Stimulants like flakka put great levels of stress on your heart which can result in abnormal palpitations or an irregular heart rhythm. If you have experienced anything like this, you must speak to a doctor immediately.
The final stage is addiction, which is characterized as compulsive use of a drug despite consequences. For example, if your use of flakka lands you in jail as a result of using, this is a strong indication that you have become addicted. This is when an individual treatment may want to consider treatment or have an open a dialogue with someone you love about getting help.
What is Involved in Flakka Addiction Treatment?
Addiction treatment will, for the most part, always begin with the most intensive phase in the continuum of care. This is a process involving and assessing your psychological needs with the primary intention of long-term recovery. When you begin your journey to treatment you will go through an intake process that is designed to determine your unique requirements. The first portion of the process is medical detox to help you cope with the worst of the withdrawal symptoms early on.
During medical detox, you will be under intensive 24-hour supervision of a medically trained staff. They will oversee your stay which will last anywhere from three to seven days. You will be monitored at all times to ensure you are responding to treatment safely, and you will be administered medications to cope with some of the more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that you may experience.
The purpose of this is to ensure long-term sobriety, and the way to achieve that is by beginning with medical detox. Once you have become stabilized, and the drug(s) and toxins have been removed from your system, you will then move on to the next level of care.
If you are battling a longtime or severe addiction, you likely will be placed in a residential facility. This will see you living on site for a period of up to 90 days with other individuals who are on the same road to recovery. You will be placed in various therapies geared at finding the root of your addiction to help you achieve long-term sobriety. Your medical team will help you create a relapse prevention plan that helps you cope with triggers on the outside, and how to deal with your emotions.
After the course of treatment, there will be an aftercare program that will help connect you to sober events and community resources. This will allow you to keep in touch with individuals you met in treatment, or help you be in a community of recovering users.
Flakka Abuse Statistics
- Cathinone drugs like flakka are most commonly used by people in their 20s.
- There were 23,000 emergency room visits in 2011 that involved psychostimulants like flakka.
- There have been more than 150 new synthetic cathinones identified since 2012.