Because Flakka’s active ingredient is alpha-PVP it produces a high similar to cocaine and is extremely addictive. The low price of Flakka has made it increasingly popular among low income communities for those struggling under the stress and turmoil of their living conditions and financial strains. People who become dependent or develop an addiction to Flakka experience drops in the body’s natural dopamine and norepinephrine levels and other changes to the brain’s chemistry. These changes can cause intense hallucinations even when not under the influence of Flakka, disconnection from reality, paranoia, anxiety, and violent behavior.
Other symptoms of Flakka addiction include:
Insomnia (up to 12 days)
Muscle tissue damage
Lung and kidney damage
Extreme weight loss (as much as 40 lbs a month)
Heart arrhythmic conditions
Seizures or muscle spasms
Identifying Flakka Addiction
Videos of people under the influence of Flakka are available on sites like YouTube and Facebook, showing the effects of flakka in the throes of hallucinations. Rambling unintelligible explanations of their experiences, swatting at invisible entities, and convinced they are being pursued, Flakka users no longer register reality. Often while under the influence of Flakka people will remove their clothes to counter their rising body temperatures. Paranoia and excited delirium combine producing intricate, vivid, and convincing delusions resulting in bizarre behaviors. A disconnect from reality leaves them in their own minds, unaware of possible environmental dangers. Flakka users often believe themselves to be pursued by unseen but malevolent forces, causing them to do dangerous things such as running into oncoming traffic, breaking into homes in attempts to hide, and attacking officers and emergency responders. The adrenaline rush provided by the drug enhances physical strength and violent aggression even in those who are passive by nature. This leads people addicted to Flakka to strike out seemingly without provocation, posing a danger to those around them. Muscle spasms and cramping are additional symptoms of Flakka use, causing the user to twitch and flinch, sometimes so severely that they lose control of their motor controls. Seizures caused by the chemical malstrom caused by Flakka addiction can become permanent, and is a sure sign of a flakka overdose. Seizures lasting more than three minutes can result in brain damage due to lack of oxygen or physical trauma.
Social Effects of Flakka Addiction
Flakka has emerged as a cheap, powerful, and easily accessible designer drug, reeking havoc through the rapid circulation in the southern United States and parts of the midwest. The results are devastating- Broward County, Florida is the epicenter of the epidemic and reports an average of 100 Flakka-related cases a month in comparison to 190 cases in all of 2014. 16 deaths in Florida have been attributed to Flakka use- eleven men and five women. Depression, financial, and legal troubles were amongst the causes attributed to their drug abuse. With a stronghold in poorer urban areas, Flakka is ravishing the communities that can least afford to seek addiction treatment. Those suffering from addiction are unfortunately ostracized and left to suffer by those who are undereducated about the disease of addiction. Stigmas against addiction lead to shame and secrecy while the dependency goes untreated. Homelessness and mental disorders plague those who suffer from addiction.
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