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Flakka: Why You Need to Avoid this Designer Drug

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FlakkaNew and more dangerous designer drugs seem to appear out of nowhere but they can make their presence known soon enough.  After just a short time on the streets, an illicit designer drug can cause many addictions and deaths. For instance, the designer drug, Flakka, surged in popularity despite the potential for deadly side effects.

Anyone who uses designer drugs needs to know the risks of using Flakka to avoid permanent neurological harm and organ damage.  Here are some things you need to know, especially if you use designer drugs for recreational purposes.

What Is Flakka?

Flakka is a man-made stimulant similar to bath salts.  It is a synthetic version of a cathinone class of stimulants known as alpha-PVP, derived from the khat plant.  People in the Middle East and Somalia often chew the leaves of the khat plant for the euphoric effects.  Here in the U.S., people use it because it produces effects similar to those of cocaine or meth, but is cheaper.  

On the streets,  people call it the zombie drug, gravel, or five-dollar insanity.  It sells in convenience stores and gas stations under the guise of plant food or jewelry cleaners.  The production of Flakka is unregulated which means it may contain other drugs or chemicals.  Furthermore, it is often added to other club drugs such as Ecstasy.

Flakka is a popular party drug because it produces feelings of high energy and euphoria.  Flakka resembles aquarium gravel, is generally foul-smelling, and is pink or white in color.  A dose of the drug sells for around $3 to $5, which makes it popular among young people.

The DEA classifies Falkka as a Schedule I drug.  This classification means the drug has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse and addiction.  Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows Flakka to be as potent as methamphetamine with a higher potential for addiction.

How Do People Use Flakka?

People use Flakka several ways. They eat, snort, inject, or smoke it in e-cigarettes.  Inhaling the vapor of Flakka allows it to enter the bloodstream rapidly and increases the risk of overdose.  

The effects typically last for 3 to 4 hours, but some effects may linger for several days, even after one dose.

What Are the Risks Associated With Flakka?

As with any street drug, the primary risk is overdose.  However, other risks of Flakka use are kidney damage or kidney failure.  Some people survive an overdose only to face being on dialysis for the rest of their lives. 

Although the typical high is short-lived, it can cause permanent neurological effects.  Because it’s hard to control the exact dose of the drug, a person can either get high or die. 

Physical and Psychological Side Effects

Here are some of the other ways Flakka affects the mind and body:

  • Immediate euphoria
  • Uncontrollable jerking or contorting
  • Changes in speech
  • Irrational, violent behavior, fearlessness
  • Brain swelling
  • Inability to feel pain
  • Paranoia, delusions, hallucinations
  • No control over thoughts or actions
  • High body temperature
  • Respiratory distress
  • High blood pressure, rapid heart rate
  • Sensation of super strength
  • Self-mutilation, suicidality
  • Tremors, spasms, seizures
  • Anxiety, panic attacks

Of course, the effects of this drug vary from person to person depending on a multitude of factors.  Nevertheless, the drug is dangerous for anyone regardless of their perceived high tolerance level.  People who use Flakka behave in ways they never would typically, and their lack of control over their thoughts or actions can lead to dangerous or illegal behavior.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Like other drugs, withdrawal symptoms occur if Flakka is withheld.  The symptoms can be both psychological and physical and often require professional or medical intervention.

The psychological withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, paranoia, depression, or suicidal thoughts.  

The physical withdrawal signs may include sleep disturbances, tremors, and night sweats.  

Flakka’s withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, but are manageable with professional help.  At Design for Change Recovery, the detox process is monitored 24/7 by skilled, medically-trained addiction specialists who care about the client’s safety and comfort.  

Flakka Addiction Treatment at Design for Change Recovery

At Design for Change Recovery, we believe it is vital to offer customized treatment plans tailored to the client’s needs and the substance involved.  We realize that everyone responds differently to treatment, so our treatment advisors conduct comprehensive assessments to determine exactly the right combination of counseling, activities, and therapies for each client.

To ensure that our clients get a full continuum of care, we offer different levels of treatment including:

Design for Change is a fully licensed, JCAHO-accredited facility, and we are in-network with major insurance companies to help clients get affordable, quality treatment for any kind of addiction.  Our programs include a comprehensive range of evidence-based and holistic therapies.

Contact us today to speak with a treatment advisor and take the first step toward a life free from the potential dangers of continued substance use.


Sources: – Flakka (alpha-PVP) – Flakka: New Dangerous Synthetic Cathinone on the Drug Scene

Flakka: Why You Need to Avoid this Designer Drug