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Flakka: The Dangerous Drug that Swept South Florida


Flakka, a designer drug with origins in South Florida, has been known to cause users to display bizarre and uncontrollable behavior. This drug is extremely dangerous, potent, addictive, and unfortunately – cheap to obtain. As a result, Flakka has become an extremely common drug of abuse in South Florida specifically. Flakka began to cause severe issues in the South Florida community in 2015, claiming lives and disrupting families. According to a 2015 article, 60 south Floridians died within the first 14 months of the drug’s appearance.

One of the newer designer drugs, Flakka, is a synthetic version of an amphetamine-like stimulant in the cathinone class called alpha PVP. By definition, cathinones are chemicals derived from the khat plant from the middle east and Somalia. Originally, individuals chewed leaves of khat plants in order to achieve a euphoric buzz. Today, the chemicals from these plants are used to make dangerous synthetic drugs, such as Flakka. According to the National Institutes of Health, Flakka is as potent as methamphetamine with a higher propensity for addiction.

Side-Effects of Flakka

Flakka is a drug that can be smoked, vaped with an e-cigarette, snorted, injected, or swallowed. When Flakka is heated up, it gives off a foul-smelling smoke resembling the smell of dirty socks. Flakka is an extremely dangerous drug that can cause many negative side-effects, particularly changes in behavior or mood. Common side effects of Flakka include, but are not limited to:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Extreme agitation
  • Jerking muscle movements
  • Delirious thoughts
  • Delusions of superhuman strength
  • Agitation
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Hallucinations
  • Profound paranoia

In some documented cases, individuals have suffered from powerful delusions – such as feeling as though they’re being chased by a large group of people who intend to kill them. When individuals suffer delusions of this sort, they become a danger to themselves and others.

Commonly, individuals on Flakka are difficult to detain, as they become aggressive and paranoid of authority or the health care workers attempting to help them. Because of this, rescue crews and first responders often have to provide patients with sedatives in order to calm them down enough to treat them.

Short-Term Effects of Flakka

Much like other stimulants, Flakka produces a flood of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward system. Therefore, the flood of dopamine that Flakka produces causes extreme feelings of pleasure – making it highly addictive.

Similar to cocaine and amphetamines like meth, short-term effects of Flakka abuse include:

  • Euphoric sensations
  • Rapid heart rate and palpitations
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Alertness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Stimulant-induced psychosis

While Flakka produces euphoric feelings, it also causes extreme aggression and paranoia. Additionally, when Flakka begins leaving the body, the “comedown” is particularly difficult to endure. Symptoms of a Flakka comedown typically include fatigue and severe depression. Because of the severity of the Flakka comedown, many users will continue to use it in order to avoid experiencing the symptoms.

This is the beginning of a cycle of drug abuse that can quickly lead to the development of tolerance. Having a tolerance to a drug means that in order to produce a high, users will have to take increased doses of the drug due to their body becoming accustomed to it. When it comes to Flakka, high doses can cause an individual’s body temperature to rise to dangerous levels, leading to muscle breakdown and subsequent kidney damage. Additionally, developing a tolerance to Flakka can result in heightened side-effects, overdose, and even death.

Long-Term Effects of Flakka

Since Flakka is a relatively new drug, there has not been a large number of extensive studies on the long-term effects of this drug. However, some discoveries have been found in regard to the long-term effects of Flakka. Prolonged use of Flakka can have a similar effect on the kidneys as experiencing an overdose, meaning permanent kidney damage or renal failure is possible. Additionally, long-term Flakka use can cause the reshaping of the brain, affecting all mental faculties, including short and long term memory. If damage to the brain is severe, individuals may have degenerated brain tissue.

Long-term Flakka abuse can result in tolerance, dependency, and eventually- addiction. Flakka is similar in design and effect as many stimulants. Therefore, the development of addiction to Flakka is similar in nature to that of methamphetamine, cocaine, bath salts, and more.

Flakka Withdrawal Symptoms

Because Flakka is similar to other stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines, the withdrawal symptoms can be the same. In other words, Flakka withdrawal can produce a wide variety of symptoms that are atypical to stimulant withdrawal.

That being said, the most common symptoms associated with Flakka withdrawal include:

  • Intense cravings for flakka
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Impaired cognition
  • Fluctuations in body temperature
  • Hallucinations

Due to the severity of Flakka withdrawal, it is recommended for individuals to attend a drug detox center. Drug detox centers in South Florida can help to treat Flakka withdrawal through 24/7 medical supervision, comfort medications, and addiction therapy.

Flakka: The Dangerous Drug that Swept South Florida

Treatment for Flakka Addiction in South Florida

Like most other drugs, Flakka addiction is best treated through attending a professional substance abuse treatment center. During admission, a thorough physical and psychological assessment will be conducted in order to determine how to safely treat the individual for Flakka addiction. Next, patients will begin the initial phase of addiction treatment; detox. During detox, patients will be safely monitored and treated for symptoms as they rid Flakka (and any other substances) from their bodies. As a result of attending detox, individuals are able to move onto the next phase of their recovery, building a strong foundation of sobriety and healthy coping mechanisms.

If you or a loved one are addicted to Flakka, it may be time to seek professional help. Addiction treatment centers across the world have allowed individuals to become free from addiction and live full, happy, and sober lives. If you would like to begin a new way of life and beat Flakka addiction, Agape Treatment Center is here to help. Give us a call to learn more about professional Flakka addiction treatment.

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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