Flakka has been in the news since 2014 when reports of a new form of bath salts that give extreme highs started going around. Flakka is also known as zombie drug, due to the hallucinations and the altered state of mind that is characteristic of the drug.
So, What is Flakka? What is it made of? How do you make Flakka?
Flakka (Alpha PVP) is a synthetic cathinone that is chemically similar to bath salts. The drug is typically in the form of white or pink crystals which is why it sometimes referred to as gravel in the streets. The drug may be snorted, ingested, injected, or vaporized with E-cigarettes.
The DEA classifies Flakka as a schedule I drug. This is a drug that has no medicinal value and has a high potential for abuse. Alpha PVP (Flakka) is made from cathinones which are the stimulant found in the khat plant popular in East Africa and the southern part of Arabia.
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Flakka and Bath Salts
Bath salts are synthetic/ designer drugs that are often manufactured in foreign labs in large quantities. These chemicals are designed to mimic the effects of methamphetamine or cocaine by stimulating the central nervous system. Bath Salts became illegal when Obama signed federal law to ban the chemicals in 2012.
Virtually every time there is a ban on designer drugs, the ban is followed by reports of new drugs circulating in the streets. Synthetic drugs are manufactured in foreign countries, often in Asia. The manufacturers of these drugs are able to change drug formulations in subtle ways to avoid detection.
Flakka is manufactured by adding compounds found in other substances such as methcathinone, mephedrone, MDMA (ecstasy) or amphetamines (Crystal Meth). Because the drugs are manufactured in an unregulated environment, it is impossible for users to establish how much of these chemical compounds are in the drug and this can cause complications and death.
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Mechanism of Action
Alpha PVP produces intense feelings of euphoria by flooding the brain with dopamine. It has the same mechanism for action and blocks proteins associated with norepinephrine and dopamine. Using this mechanism alpha PVP can keep these body flooded with feel-good chemicals.
The main problem with this mechanism is that it blocks the function of neurotransmitter molecules. The synapses cannot reuptake the activation molecules at the same rate, therefore neighboring cells are signaled to activate the neurotransmitter. This result in an abnormal build up in the synapses which are responsible for the adverse effects of Flakka.
Recent studies show that Alpha PVP is much more potent than other stimulant drugs such as methamphetamines and has comparable effects to ecstasy (MDPV). Even at low doses, these drugs are known to cause serious mental and physical health complications requiring emergency treatment at an addiction treatment center.
Side Effects and Complications
Research suggests that the continued use of Flakka can cause serious mental and physical health complications. One of the biggest problems with alpha PVP that is sold in the streets is that it varies in chemical composition and it is often impossible to determine the right dosage. Alpha PVP can cause serious complications and death even with slight variations in the chemical composition.
Some of the effects of Flakka include:
- Euphoria and Feelings of invincibility: The modification of the body’s reward system inspires feelings of invincibility and delusions of superhuman strength.
- Paranoia and Psychosis: Alpha PVP is known to cause schizophrenia-like psychosis and paranoia.
- Alertness: Alpha PVP has similar effects to cathinone in that it can increase focus and alertness in regular doses.
- Hyperthermia: Users of Flakka may experience hyperthermia or feel as though their body is overheating. This is caused by the stimulant effect on metabolism. This is part of the reason why some users are known to tear off their clothes and run into the rain.
- Increased Heart Rate: Regular users of Flakka may notice an increased heart rate. The change in heart rate is caused by the drug’s effect on the metabolism and particularly on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.
- Muscle Cramps: Alpha PVP can cause muscle cramps. These muscle cramps are sometimes so severe that they cause the body to shake uncontrollably.
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Further Complications and Treatment
Besides these complications, the nature of the symptoms often put patients in dangerous situations. Hyperactivity and hyperthermia can lead to an agitated state called excited delirium. Patients showing signs of excited delirium often fight off emergency staff that has been called to treat them. Struggling can cause muscle tissues to break off and escape into the bloodstream triggering a condition referred to as rhabdomyolysis.
Prolonged use of the drug can cause serious complications such as hyperthermia, heart palpations, and paranoia. However, even small doses are known to cause negative effects that may require treatment at an inpatient or luxury drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.
When a user stops using Flakka they may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings and intense irritability
- Anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior
- Sweating and rapid heart rate
In animal trials, Flakka has been shown to cause as much dependency as bath salts. When a patient checks into an inpatient or outpatient luxury drug and alcohol addiction treatment center they will need to undergo detox under professional supervision to reduce the withdrawal effects before treatment can commence. An ideal rehab program also includes dual diagnosis, one-on-one, group, and family counseling, as well as other alternative therapies that may be available. The sooner you get treatment the easier it will be to avoid the adverse effects that can have a serious impact on your life later on.
Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-371-4198 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.