A new stimulant is trending in Florida and across the nation. It’s called Flakka, and it has been the central component in several bizarre reports involving the use of bath salts.
What Is Flakka?
Flakka is a stimulant akin to cocaine and methamphetamine. Users report similar experiences to methamphetamine, with an increased sense of euphoria, intense concentration, and more energy. Sometimes called “gravel,” Flakka is crystalline and it looks like little rocks. Users can inject, snort, or smoke it. It is also becoming extremely popular to vape Flakka in common nicotine vaporizers. That makes it easy to hide and quick to enter the system!
Flakka Side Effects
Flakka mimics the effects of methamphetamine and cocaine and it causes severe side effects that can cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm to the user or others. Reported side effects of Flakka include:
- Odd or bizarre behavior
- Violent behavior
- Extreme agitation
- Bouts of anxiety
- Jerking muscle movements
- Rapid heart rate
The long-term side effects of Flakka use are not yet known as the drug has not been studied well enough yet. Although the research isn’t conclusive yet, experts believe long-term Flakka use may be toxic to the kidneys or may even cause renal failure.2 Because the long-term effects of Flakka use are still a mystery, it would be wise to steer clear of the drug entirely instead of taking the risk.
Of course, the high of Flakka has its lows. Much like methamphetamine, once users get the high there is a propensity to chase that high with more and more drug. Over hours to days of not sleeping, users can become aggressive or even begin to hallucinate and act irrationally. That explains the spate of naked Flakka users doing anything from crossing the street to brandishing weapons atop a cabin in South Florida. And, as with any stimulant, the comedown can be brutal. When users have expended so much energy and used up naturally occurring brain chemicals, it is hard to get back to normal. Depression and listlessness can set in along with a strong desire to get more stimulants.
Why is Flakka So Addictive?
The euphoric and energizing effects of Flakka make it particularly enticing to users who are searching for their next high. The effects of Flakka can also be extremely powerful, especially when it is smoked, which can drive a drug abuser to continue using Flakka despite its horrific and dangerous side effects. Additionally, the depression mentioned above can also be a very motivating factor.
While it may be extremely addictive, Flakka abuse is especially dangerous because the potency of any given batch is completely unknown. As is true with other designer drugs, the user can never be sure exactly what chemicals they are ingesting or how they will affect them. The risk of overdose is also much higher with a designer drug like Flakka, as the side effects, ingredients, and risks of any one dose are largely unknown.
Flakka vs. Bath Salts
Although there are rumors about Flakka being a mixture of two drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, chemically speaking, Flakka is just another type of bath salt.1 Bath salts are synthetic drugs that are related to a group of chemical compounds called cathinones.
When illegal manufacturers of bath salts make drugs, they slightly modify the chemical structure with every drug to evade the law. As a result, they create a new drug each time. Flakka is an example of one of those new drugs. Flakka, is the new chemical called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone or alpha-PVP, which causes euphoria, extreme stimulation, and heightened energy.
Who Are the Flakka Users?
Bath salts are some of the most commonly used drugs, alongside alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and tobacco. According to a 2015 study, users of bath salts are primarily male, those of lower income, and residents in urban areas.3 Most bath salts users inhale or snort the drugs, as it provides a more intense high. However, this method of bath salts use also increases the risk of addiction and health complications.
Signs and Symptoms of Flakka Abuse
There are several common signs and symptoms of Flakka abuse. If a person is abusing Flakka, he or she might:
- Have intense levels of energy and euphoria
- Suddenly lose a lot of weight
- Grind their teeth
- Have nasal damage
- Be uncharacteristically aggressive or violent
- Be paranoid or act erratically4
Many Flakka users may also snort the powder off keys, so if you notice loose keys with powder residue laying around a person’s home or bedroom, he or she may be abusing Flakka or some other type of bath salt drug.
Flakka Withdrawal Symptoms
Since Flakka is a designer drug, withdrawal symptoms may vary from person to person. This is especially true if the user is abusing more than one drug simultaneously, also known as polydrug abuse.
Common Flakka withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Irregular heartbeat5
Flakka detox can be very unpredictable, as the chemical ingredients of each individual batch may vary. Additionally, polydrug abuse can make the detox process more complex, increasing the risk of medical complications for the user.
A medical detox program is the safest way to detox from Flakka, as it will provide 24/7 medical care and medication-assisted treatment to relieve uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Is Flakka Illegal?
In the continuing effort to outwit the law, Flakka has been legal up to this point. It is almost assured it will become illegal, but it’s ease of acquisition has helped fan the flames of Flakka abuse. Even when it becomes illegal, there will still be other ways to find stimulants, and there will probably be a new designer drug on the streets in months.
The point is, it’s always good to be aware of the new drugs available on the streets and even in the stores.
Find a Flakka Rehab Center Today
Getting help for Flakka abuse and addiction is easier than you might think. At Nova Recovery Center, we operate detox facilities, a rehab center, and sober living homes to provide adults with a comprehensive addiction treatment experience that addresses all aspects of person – not just the physical addiction.
To overcome an addiction to Flakka, the user will need to complete detox before going to rehab. Once in rehab, treatment will consist of behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, 12-step work, family therapy, and modifications to the person’s diet and exercise routine. All these steps, together, will provide a well-rounded approach to addiction treatment for the whole person.
If you or someone you know is having problems with flakka or any other drug or alcohol addiction, please reach out for help! Our admissions representatives are waiting to take your call.