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What is the Flakka Drug?

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Flakka, the colloquial name for α-pyrrolidopentadione (a-PVP), is a synthetic cathinone drug. It is also sometimes referred to as “gravel” for its gravel-like appearance. It is commonly referred to as the Flakka drug.

First, let’s understand what a cathinone drug is. Cathinone is a naturally occurring compound called phenylalkylamine, found in the leaves of khat - a shrub or small tree indigenous to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Historical references to the chewing of khat leaves for their euphoric and stimulant effects date back many centuries, and today, this tradition remains widespread in such countries as Somalia, Yemen, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Synthetic cathinone's are a class of lab-made stimulants that are designed to mimic the chemical properties of  khat. 

Flakka  belongs  to the family of drugs commonly referred to as “bath salts.” Flakka is typically abused through oral ingestion, but it can also be snorted, smoked, or injected. It is known for its highly addictive nature and potentially dangerous side effects.

What is the Flakka Drug Made Of?

Flakka drugs are man-made, typically from a manufactured version of an Amphetamine-like Stimulant in the Cathinone class called Alpha-PVP.

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Flakkas Effects and Dangers

Flakka is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system and has effects similar to those of cocaine, including intense euphoria, increased energy, and alertness. People wonder ‘how does Flakka affect your brain?’ The answer is that abusing Flakka can have a range of adverse effects both on users and their brains. 

Below is a list of short and long term effects of Flakka: 

  • Agitated delirium - This causes hyperstimulation, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.
  • Violent or erratic behavior - Flakka gained notoriety for causing bizarre and often dangerous behavior in users. 
  • Hyperthermia - The body experiences an elevated body temperature, which can rapidly get as high as 105-106°F (the average normal body temperature is 98.6°F). This results in sweating and dehydration, as well as kidney damage and failure. As a result of hyperthermia, muscles can break down, which takes a toll on the kidneys. Experts worry that some survivors of Flakka overdoses may be on dialysis for the rest of their life.
  • Neurological problems -  A Flakka high can last several hours, and Jim Hall, a drug abuse epidemiologist explained that “it is possible that the neurological effects can be permanent. Not only does the drug sit on neurons, it could also destroy them. Because Flakka, like bath salts, hang around in the brain for longer than cocaine, the extent of the destruction could be greater.”
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia) and blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms and "superhuman" strength
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Suicidality
  • Death, in severe cases - As with any illicit substance abuse, the difference in quantity between getting high and fatally overdosing is very minor, and is unknown to the user in advance.

The extent to which an individual will experience these dangerous side effects depends on the frequency and method of administration, as well as a number of other factors, such as any underlying health conditions.

If you or your loved one is suffering from Flakka addiction, don't hesitate to reach out to us at  Avenues Recovery, so that we can guide you on your path to recovery.

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Flakka Withdrawal Symptoms

Since the Flakka drug is highly addictive, users who quit this drug will experience withdrawal symptoms. These could include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Night sweats
  • Irritability
  • Mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Night sweats
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

 

Prevalence of Flakka Use

It is difficult to know exactly how popular Flakka use is. This is because when surveying individuals on whether they have used Flakka, the results are likely to be inaccurate, since Flakka users often underestimate their use of this drug. This is because Flakka or other bath salts are often used unknowingly as adulterants in drugs such as ecstasy. Thus, while some people may ingest illicit synthetic cathinone's intentionally - sometimes as cheaper or more accessible alternatives to other drugs - others ingest them unintentionally as contaminants in other drugs, and it is thus hard to ascertain the prevalence of the drug use. However, since Flakka is inexpensive, costing as little as $5 for a dose, it is definitely easy to access and to get addicted to. 

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Flakka Versus Bath Salts

While Flakka and bath salts [1] do have similar properties, they are different from one another. Before we look at the differences, it is important to clarify, “bath salts” have nothing in common with actual “bath salts” or Epsom salts, which are developed from a mineral mixture of magnesium and sulphate, and which people put in bath water to help them relieve stress and relax muscles. Calling the drug “bath salts” is thus an intentionally misleading attempt to draw attention away from them so they won't get confiscated by authorities. It is also an attempt to circumvent drug regulations. Even though the packaging may state, “not intended for human consumption,” bath salts are sold as drugs of abuse.

One difference between bath salts and Flakka is their chemical composition. "Bath salts" is a colloquial term used to refer to a variety of synthetic cathinones. The chemical composition of bath salts can vary widely, as it includes numerous different compounds, such as mephedrone, methylone, and MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone), among others. Flakka, on the other hand, typically refers to a specific synthetic cathinone known as alpha-PVP. It is distinct from other synthetic cathinones, including those found in bath salts.

Another difference is in terms of the effects the two drugs have. The effects of bath salts can vary depending on the specific compound or mixture used. Generally, they produce stimulant effects, including increased energy, alertness, euphoria, and sometimes hallucinations. Flakka, due to its primary active compound alpha-PVP, tends to be associated with extreme stimulation and agitation. Users of Flakka may exhibit erratic and bizarre behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, and sometimes violent tendencies. It has gained notoriety for its potentially severe and unpredictable effects on behavior.

Treatment for Flakka Addiction

The first step in treating Flakka addiction is often medical detoxification. This process involves the supervised withdrawal from the drug in a safe and controlled environment. Medical professionals can provide medications and medical monitoring to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe and include anxiety, depression, paranoia, and intense cravings. Flakka rarely occurs in isolation since it is often part of poly-substance abuse. Thus, medical professionals will take into consideration that Flakka users often abuse it alongside other drugs and will experience withdrawal effects from those drugs as well. They will be sure to adjust medications and provide careful monitoring as necessary to ensure a safe detoxification.

After detox, individuals will always benefit from inpatient or residential treatment programs. These programs provide a highly structured and supportive environment where individuals receive therapy, counseling, and education about addiction. This setting can be particularly beneficial for those with severe addiction or a history of relapse. If drug addiction is less severe, outpatient treatment programs may also be an option, as these allow individuals to live at home while attending regular therapy sessions and support groups. 

If you are experiencing Flakka addiction or have a loved one who is, don’t hesitate to contact us at Avenues Recovery, where we can walk you through the different treatment options available. Our sensitive and experienced addiction counselors will be  at your side at all times until you are able to live a life free from addiction. A life that you deserve!

Sources

[1] www.dea.gov

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