The drug Flakka is another of the new breed of dangerous designer drugs that are produced in laboratories and appear suddenly on the market. Flakka, which derives its name from the Spanish slang for pretty woman (“la flaca”), is a form of the drug alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP). Interestingly, this drug was developed in the 1960’s, and is now regulated as a Schedule 1 substance under the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Like many of the recent designer drugs, it is an existing but forgotten drug with psychoactive properties that was rediscovered by illicit chemists seeking profitable new opportunities. Many of these drugs are produced in China and are easy to purchase online, because they are marketed as being a product which is different than their true chemical composition. In some parts of the country, Flakka is also called “gravel” because it is composed of white crystal chunks that have similar appearance to aquarium gravel. As mentioned above and like most synthetic drugs, the bulk of flakka appears to come from China and is sold over the Internet or through gas stations or other types of dealers. A single dose is as little as $3 to $5. This makes the drug Flakka a cheap alternative to cocaine, especially for those who are economically disadvantaged. Thus Flakka dealers usually target young and poor people in communities that are already disadvantaged in terms of economic opportunity and access to health care. The abuse then typically spreads up the socioeconomic ladder, eventually effecting all strata of society. Flakka addiction treatment programs have begun to be developed throughout the country because of the dangerous and rapid spread of the drug. The active ingredient in Flakka is in fact a close relative to methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a key ingredient in the highly publicized designer drug “bath salts“. Again, this drug was first produced in the 1960’s, and remained relatively unknown until being rediscovered in 2004 and popularized as a new, effective, and deadly street drug. Bath salts have become increasingly more regulated, compelling producers to find new workarounds like Flakka that evade scrutiny – for a while at least. However, stories about the strange behaviors of Flakka addicts – particularly those who overdose on the drug – have become more and more common recently. Alpha-PVP, the active ingredient in Flakka, effects neurons that normally regulate the levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are some of the primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the human brain. The resulting overabundance of these chemicals produces a sense of euphoria in the user.
The action on the brain of alpha-PVP is very similar to cocaine and methamphetamine, but the chemicals in flakka can produce effects that last substantially longer. Because of this the high produced by flakka can last for up to several hours. In part at least because the drug is so new on the streets, but also because of its inherent potency, it is difficult for users to accurately control the dosage of Flakka.
Flakka can be smoked, injected, or snorted, and a very small overdose can lead to a range of extreme symptoms. One of these is called excited delirium, and is marked by violent behavior, extreme spikes in body temperature, and paranoia. A symptom that has brought Flakka the most attention is its tendency to give users an enhanced and extreme sense of power and rage, which makes them extremely dangerous and difficult to control.
Unfortunately, it is thought that the neurological effects of Flakka may be permanent, because the drug might actually destroy neurons. The extent of the destruction of brain tissue may be even greater than that of cocaine or methamphetamine because the drug effects the brain for a substantially longer period of time. Flakka also has an additional very serious side effect in its action on the kidneys of its users. As a result of the condition hyperthermia Flakka can cause muscles to break down, which overtaxes the kidneys. It is thought that some survivors of flakka overdoses may be on dialysis for the rest of their life.
Flakka is another of the recent dangerous designer drugs that has taken the country by storm. Fortunately, resources for Flakka Addiction Treatment are available today. Time will tell how serious this new epidemic of addiction will become, but as of now we should regard Flakka with grave concern .