Synthetic Street Drug Flakka Causes Crazy Behavior
Published: 2015-06-02 - Updated: 2020-04-11
Author: Thomas C. Weiss | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Library of Addiction and Substance Abuse Publications
Synopsis: Information regarding the synthetic drug Flakka that causes symptoms such as agitation, unusual behavior, delusions, paranoia and superhuman strength. Drug abusers have also reported experiencing undesirable effects to include vomiting, tremor, fever, sweating, agitation and chest pains. Products containing synthetic cathinones have been marketed falsely as, bath salts, plant fertilizer, insect repellents, stain remover, or, jewelry cleaner.
A new synthetic drug called, 'Flakka,' is making people in America experience several undesirable side-effects and affecting communities. Since September of 2014, doctors, hospitals, fire rescue crews and police officers have witnessed people with signs and symptoms that include agitation, unusual behavior, delusions, paranoia and seemingly superhuman strength.
Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone, PVP, alpha-PVP, O-2387, β-ketone-prolintane, Prolintanone) is a synthetic stimulant drug of the cathinone class sometimes called flakka or gravel. It is chemically related to pyrovalerone and is the ketone analog of prolintane. It is used as a recreational drug, and is considered a Schedule I drug under the U.S. FDA Safety and Innovation Act.
Recent instances of encounters with people on flakka include a man who was very agitated and ran through traffic naked. A delusional drug addict who tried to perform a sex act on a tree is another encounter; he resisted arrest. Another flakka user became extraordinarily paranoid and actually attempted to break into a police station for safety. The bizarre and dangerous behaviors on the parts of these individuals are directly caused by the side-effects of flakka.
Flakka is also called, 'flocka,' or, 'gravel,' and is a combination of crack and heroin, or methamphetamines and heroin. In reality, flakka is simply a newer-generation of bath salts. Bath salts in general are synthetic psychoactive drugs made in large amounts in foreign laboratories. The drugs are all related to a wider group of chemical compounds known as, 'cathinones.' Every time one type of bath salt is made illegal, drug laboratories change the chemical structure somewhat and a new street drug that is technically illegal becomes available.
With flakka, the new chemical is called, 'alpha-PVP.' Drug users take flakka to achieve a feeling of euphoria, stimulation, energy and an increased sense of awareness. The drug has several negative side-effects including changes to the person's mood or behavior. Even very slight overdoses of flakka can cause jerking muscle movements, extreme agitation, profound paranoia and delirious thoughts. In some of the documented delusions, the person's experiences are of a typical paranoia where the drug user feels as if they are being somehow chased by a large group of people who are attempting to kill them.
People who use flakka are a threat to themselves, first responders such as EMT's and police who are there to assist them, as well as other people around them. It has become common to find reports that it takes several people to restrain and sedate people on flakka. Emergency department staff and rescue crews need to administer sedatives to people on flakka in order to calm them down and make them safe.
Complications of Flakka Use
Some of the complications of flakka abuse may happen while the drug user is extraordinarily agitated. From a medical perspective, the severe consequences of the agitation caused by flakka show up later. People who are agitated can enter into a state referred to as, 'excited delirium,' which is indeed a medical emergency. In their excited and delirious state, restrained flakka users scream, struggle to free themselves, flail about and may even experience seizure activity. The person's struggling causes a high core body temperature called, 'hyperthermia.'
A combination of high body temperature and extreme muscle over-activity can cause additional metabolic issues to occur to the flakka user's body. Muscle tissue starts to break down, releasing proteins and other cellular products into the user's bloodstream in a process called, 'rhabdomyolsis.' The extreme struggling can also cause the drug user to become dehydrated. The final result of the cellular products and proteins released during rhabdomyolsis and dehydration can impair the person's filtering function of their kidneys - leading to renal failure and death. A flakka user also faces the prospect that law enforcement officers might use a Taser on them, or other methods that have the potential to harm the person when police are forced to intervene.
Synthetic Cathinone Information
Synthetic cathinones are [beta]-keto-phenethylamine derivatives of the larger phenethylamine structural class which includes amphetamines, aminoindanes, '2C compounds,' and cathinones. Synthetic cathinones share a core phenethylamine structure with substitutions at the [beta]-position, [alpha]-position, phenyl ring, or nitrogen atom. The addition of a beta-keto substitute to the phenethylamine core structure, along with substitutions on the alpha carbon atom or the nitrogen atom creates a number of substances called, 'cathinones,' or, 'synthetic cathinones.'
A number of synthetic cathinones produce pharmacological effects which are substantially similar to the schedule I substances methcathinone, cathinone and 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) as well as schedule II stimulants such as amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine. Synthetic cathinones are structurally and pharmacologically similar to cathinone, MDMA and additional related substances. The synthetic cathinone substances share a number of similarities with schedule I and schedule II substances, to include similarities with respect to adverse or desired effects. Generally, the desired effects reported by users of synthetic cathinone substances include:
- Sense of well-being
- Increased alertness
- Increased sociability
- Improved concentration and focus
Drug abusers have also reported experiencing undesirable effects to include vomiting, tremor, fever, sweating, agitation and chest pains. Additional negative or toxic effects that have been reported in association with the abuse of synthetic cathinones include the following:
- Altered mental status
Synthetic cathinone substances have no known medical use in America, yet evidence demonstrates that the substances are being abused by people. There have been documented reports of emergency room admissions and deaths related to the abuse of synthetic cathinone substances.
Products containing synthetic cathinones have been marketed falsely as, 'bath salts,' 'plant fertilizer,' 'insect repellents,' 'stain remover,' or, 'jewelry cleaner.' The products are sold at head shops, smoke shops, adult book stores, convenience stores and gasoline stations. They may also be purchased on the Internet. The substances are commonly found in the form of crystals, tablets, resins, capsules or powders.
Flakka Facts and Statistics
- The name flakka is Spanish for pretty woman.
- Flakka can be smoked, injected, or snorted and its high lasts one to seven hours.
- Most doses of flakka are $3 to $5 dollars and it's marketed to poor and homeless people as a cheap alternative to cocaine.
- Flakka is made from a compound called alpha-PVP, a chemical cousin of cathinone, the amphetamine-like drug found in bath salts.
- PVP has been reported to be the cause or a significant contributory cause of death in suicides and polydrug overdoses. PVP can cause a condition called "excited delirium" that involves hyper-stimulation, paranoia, and hallucinations. PVP has also been linked to at least one death where it was combined with pentedrone and caused heart failure.
- At high doses, flakka may also cause the body to reach high temperatures (bath salts have been linked with the same symptom). This excessive temperature can lead to severe physical complications like kidney damage and muscle breakdown.
Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.
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