Just Say Know

to flakka

By Julia Brogioli and Molly Saturley

What is Flakka?

Flakka is a cheap and extremely addictive stimulant made from alpha-PVP, a chemical compound relative to Cathinone, a drug found in bath salts. Its made mainly in India and China and can be sold online for extremely low prices. Its colloquially called an "upper".

What does it look like?

Flakka looks alike to colorful gravel pebbles, hence the nickname "Gravel". The most popular form of the drug is crystals, in the color of pink, white, or blue. Flakka can also be a powder, pill, or liquid.

Is Flakka used in medicine? How does it interact with other medications or substances?

Flakka is not used in medicine. Since Flakka is a newly found street drug, little is known about how it interacts with other medications or substances.

How is Flakka administered?

Flakka is administered into the body from; smoking, snorting, vaping, placing under tongue, injections, and also being eaten.
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What are the physical and psychological effects?

Flakka has its colloquial nickname because an "upper" is a drug known to give the psychological effect of euphoric state and hallucinations, and the physical effects of enhanced alertness, faster movements, and increased body temperature. The user is often extremely aggressive.

How is neurotransmission affected?

Reports have suggested that the users have had "superhuman strength". According to Dr. Micheal Baumann of the NIDA, (National Institute of Drug Abuse) this is because of how the drug blocks the norepinephrine transporter proteins in the brain. (Norepinephrine is a hormone that is released by the adrenal medulla and by the sympathetic nerves and functions as a neurotransmitter. It is also used as a drug to raise blood pressure.) This is a neurotransmitter that stabilizes the body for action by raising blood pressure and heart rate. The transporter proteins' function is to pick up any unutilized norepinephrine to stop its effects, but when flakka blocks these proteins, the effects cant be controlled.

Flakka also blocks dopamine transporter proteins. Dopamine takes place in the activation of the brain’s reward centers. (The brain's reward center controls basic survival- food, water, sex) and is released in response to pleasurable stimuli. Flakka increases the effect of dopamine.

Woman in Florida on Flakka

What are the short/long term effects of use?

If a high dosage of Flakka is taken, the high body temperatures that may be reached could lead to kidney damage and the breakdown of muscles. Even once the drug leaves the body, the person is left with fatigue and in some cases, depression. These effects are similar to cocaine and meth. The drug may adjust the user's brain chemistry so they require more doses to acquire the same high. This can lead to an addiction. Excessive use has been traced to feelings of hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety.

How long do these effects last?

Effects differ with each use of Flakka. This is because its never made the same, you never know what your going to get. (How high you will be) Once the drug begins to wear off, many users take more because the after-effects of the drug are depression and fatigue.

What is the tolerance/withdrawal/overdose of this substance?

A single dose of flakka is about one tenth of a gram, and any amount above that severely increases the risk of overdose. During the time that flakka goes through the body, the user can experience excited delirium, which is a sign of over dosage. Another sign of flakka over dose is sweating profusely, which is a reaction to increased body temperature that can reach up to 106 degrees. At this point the heat begins damaging the liver and kidneys. The person overdosing experiences muscle cramps and spasms as well as difficulty breathing and heart problems. Extreme reactions involve seizures and cardiac arrest or stroke.
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What are the laws or social concerns of this drug?

Flakka is popular because it is cheap and extremely addictive, but any addict of flakka is extremely dangerous because they feel a sense of invincibility and superhuman strength. In many places flakka is banned, such as China and Florida. But many states and countries do not know what flakka is and have not made sure law officials are getting flakka out of the streets.

What support systems exist for those addicted to this substance?

There are many medical centers and rehab centers that can help addicts of flakka become and stay clean of this addictive drug through physical activities and hobbies decreasing the need to depend on drugs.