Author: John Carter

Flakka Drug Symptoms, Side Effects, Complications

flakka drugs

The neurological effects of Flakka toxicity may be treated with drugs such as benzodiazepines to counteract agitation and aberrant behavior. The cardiac effects of these drugs can be addressed with the intravenous administration of low-dose norepinephrine (to normalize heart rate and blood pressure) over several hours (typically not more than 6). While there are no FDA-approved medications for addiction to flakka, there are medicines available for co-occurring mental health conditions. Flakka is an addictive drug that people use to obtain a cheap, quick, and euphoric high. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in the pleasure and reward center of the brain, which gives off that euphoric feeling.

  1. Hall says designer drugs like flakka are not always pure, which means that frequently the customer and dealer don’t actually know what’s in the product.
  2. Reported cases included an agitated man running naked through traffic, a delusional drug addict who attempted to perform a sex act on a tree and then resisted arrest, and a paranoid man trying to break into a police station to seek safety.
  3. For thousands of years, people have chewed the shrub’s leaves for their psychoactive effects in the plant’s native North Africa and Saudi Arabia.
  4. Authorities, however, believed Harouff was likely high on the new street drug called Flakka, as use had previously been attributed to widespread incidents of strange and sometimes violent behavior.
  5. The combination of a high body temperature and extreme muscle overactivity can cause other metabolic problems to happen in the body.

Each time one type of bath salt is made illegal, the drug labs change the chemical structure slightly and a new drug that is technically not illegal is created. In the case of Flakka, the new chemical is called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone or alpha-PVP. Drug users take Flakka to get a feeling of euphoria, a heightened sense of awareness, stimulation, and energy.

What are the symptoms of Flakka abuse?

This is understandable as much of the public is now obsessed with zombie TV shows. But we need to ensure that we remain cautious about news we hear, and responsible for news we share. Flakka can be smoked, vaped with an e-cigarette, snorted, injected, or swallowed. When heated up, it gives off a foul-smelling smoke characterized as smelling like dirty socks. Inpatient treatment is also known as rehabilitative or residential treatment and requires that the patient remains within a facility to receive treatment.

Many attribute the fall in flakka deaths to a ban that the United States Drug Enforcement Administration put on it in March 2014. Though dealers could still get reliable, cheap flakka from China, the country promptly banned 116 synthetic substances including the flakka drug following immense pressure from the U.S. “At the height of the flakka craze, you were almost praying for crack cocaine to come back,” Don Maines, a drug treatment counselor with the Broward County sheriff’s office told The Washington Post. The flakka drug is highly addictive, and with repeated use comes the risk of devastating longer-term consequences including depression, insomnia, paranoia, kidney failure, heart failure, and death. Users have reported that the drug use of flakka can trigger intense and uncontrollable urges to ingest the drug again.

flakka drugs

These patients are a threat to themselves, the people around them, and the first responders (police, EMS) who are there to help them. It is common to hear reports that it takes multiple people to restrain and sedate these patients. Rescue crews and emergency department staff need to give sedatives to these patients to calm them and make them safe. Flakka’s similarity to bath salts implies a high potential to cause violent behavior and other negative psychosocial consequences when taken, especially when used in high doses. This may lead to unintentional injury and various forms of trauma that may be severe.

Cannibals and zombies high on ‘bath salts’?

“We’re referring to these as the guinea pig drugs. Often the dealer might not even know what they’re selling.” “When we first heard the word we thought it was referring to the fact that it’s a strong stimulant, almost all stimulants have an appetite depressant quality to them, an almost anorexic quality.” Cathinone use can also cause rhabdomyolysis, which is a melting of the muscle tissue and the release of muscle fibers into the blood stream. This can lead to kidney failure and result in a user needing permanent dialysis.

Recently, the abuse of synthetic drugs has re-emerged as a significant worldwide issue. “One of the kind of 21st century trends in drug supply is creating new brand names like flakka and building its popularity and then selling anything,” said Hall, who authored a report on the designer drug market in Florida. “Elsewhere in the country [flakka is] actually quite a popular drug. It’s often sold under the street name gravel because of its crystal, small, lumped-up appearance that looks like grainy pebbles or gravel in an aquarium.”

The drug can also raise body temperature dangerously high, leading to kidney damage or failure. Police in south Florida have seen a growing number of cases of bizarre and uncontrollable behavior linked to a street drug called flakka, one of the newer chemicals in the booming category of synthetic or designer drugs. Hall says designer drugs like flakka are not always pure, which means that frequently the customer and dealer don’t actually know what’s in the product. Hall says that in 2013 there were a total of 126 reported deaths tied to synthetic cathinone in Florida. Examples of behavioral therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management and motivational incentives. The designer drug flakka comes in crystal form, and it is typically pink or white.

This type of treatment typically incorporates elements of inpatient rehab but allows the patient to live at home while seeking care. Luckily, Broward County hospital admissions for flakka went from 306 in October to 54 in December, and stayed down, with no flakka-related deaths occurring over the first third of 2016. The case of Austin Harrouff is almost certainly the most tragic of all the flakka drug stories, yet it’s hardly the most bizarre. Over the past several years, dozens of cases have made headlines and helped make the flakka drug as feared as it is today. Brevard County SheriffKenneth Crowder attempted to have sex with a tree while under the effects of flakka.

Little information is known about flakka outside what is reported from users. Although people use flakka to achieve a euphoric high, the drug’s symptoms and side effects can escalate quickly. Flakka is one of a number of cathinone-based drugs that are produced in China and sold online to small-time drug gangs in the U.S. Hall says that with small investment of only a few thousand dollars, a dealer can walk away with as much as $75,000. Hall says the drug is designed to cause the brain to flood with dopamine, a hormone that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, and then block the transmitters, producing an intense feeling of euphoria.

Thanks to the legal or semi-legal status of this drug, it may be more accessible to younger people at risk for drug use and abuse. Patients recovering from cathinone toxicity may also require ongoing care to regain functional status lost in the course of adverse effects on the heart or cardiovascular system. This is known as medication-assisted treatment and is administered under supervision to reduce cravings, bolster abstinence, and treat symptoms such as psychosis and agitation. Outpatient treatment is received in medical centers or other treatment facilities that the patient visits regularly as part of their normal life.


Flakka is most typically made from the chemical alpha-PVP, which is a synthetic version of the amphetamine-like stimulant cathinone. Cathinones are chemicals derived from the khat plant grown in the Middle East and Somalia, where the leaves are frequently chewed for a euphoric buzz. Flakka is a designer drug that can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed. To prevent teen drug use, it’s important to talk to your child about substance abuse and clearly explain that the legal status of a drug does not ensure its safety or negate its potential to lead to addiction.

What are the complications of Flakka use?

U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityBecause the effects of flakka are so potent, between September 2014 and December 2015, 63 people died from overdoses. Authorities took samples of Harrouff’s hair, DNA, and blood, and sent them to the F.B.I. for drug testing. But media outlet after media outlet immediately suspected that the culprit was a drug called flakka. Drug Enforcement AdministrationThe effects of flakka are so gruesome that the U.S. put a ban on 116 different Chinese substances used to make it. As flakka is a new drug, there is still a lot to learn about the treatment of the substance.

Legal status

Along with a few cases reported in Ohio, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and several others, in the U.S. flakka saw a whopping 780 percent increase in cases between 2012 and 2014. That same month, in April 2015, Kenneth Crowder ran naked through a central Florida town and attempted to have sex with a tree before attacking the officers who had come to subdue him, at which point he declared himself both God and Thor. And some of the more appalling flakka incidents are just as tragic as all those physiological and psychological effects suggest. As little is known about flakka, detoxing in the care of medical professionals is essential.

A few weeks later, another man who said he had just smoked flakka impaled himself while trying to scale a fence around the police station. In Lake Worth, a city in Palm Beach County, a man armed with a gun — and naked — stood on a rooftop and announced, “I feel delusional, and I’m hallucinating!” He told authorities he had vaped flakka with an e-cigarette. Law enforcement and community activists were instrumental in limiting the damage done by the drug’s dangerous effects. Most reports of Flakka after 2016 turned out to be other similar chemicals in the bath salt family. In some of the documented delusions, individuals’ experiences are of a typical paranoia, where the drug users feel they are being chased by a large group of people trying to kill them.