Flakka Substance Abuse Treatment

There are various different natural and man-made substances that can cause adverse effects on an individual when used. In fact, many substances that can get a person high and cause serious side effects are things that you wouldn’t expect. One example of such a substance is the bath salt-like drug known as flakka. 

What is Flakka?

Flakka is a man-made drug made from the synthetic version of the amphetamine-like stimulant called alpha-PVP. Alpha-PVP is in the cathinone class of amphetamine-like stimulants. Thus, flakka is a synthetic cathinone. Synthetic cathinones are man-made stimulants that are chemically related to the actual cathinones substance in the khat plant. The khat plant itself grows in Arabia and East Africa. 

Synthetic cathinones such as flakka are a part of the drug group New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). Thus, they mimic the effects of other illicit drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. A common street name for flakka is “gravel” due to its crystal-like appearance. Because of the way flakka looks and functions, people also often compare flakka to bath salts. 

The color of flakka is usually white or pink. To consume flakka, you can either snort it, inject it, eat it, smoke it, or vaporize it through an e-cigarette. 


The History of Flakka

Alpha-PVP, the cathinone class of stimulants to which flakka belongs, was discovered in 1963 and patented in 1967. When alpha-PVP was patented, it was patented as a central nervous system stimulant. 

Originally, people thought that alpha-PVP could possibly be used to treat ADD or narcolepsy. This is due to the fact that flakka was classified as a central nervous system stimulant. A central nervous stimulant that doctors often prescribe to patients to help them treat those types of conditions.

Flakka Drug Effects

Thus, in 2013, alpha-PVP started to come in the form of a tablet. However, it wasn’t until about 2014 that the synthetic version of alpha-PVP known as flakka became popular. Soon after, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classified flakka as a Schedule 1 substance. This means that flakka has a high potential for abuse and no medical value. 

People think that flakka first grew in popularity in South Florida. This is because a flakka use incident occurred there around the time that the DEA classified flakka as a drug. 

During this incident, a person high on flakka stabbed a couple to death. That person then started chewing on one of the victim’s faces. Violent acts such as this by people high on flakka started to make the public more aware of the flakka substance.  

How is Flakka made?

Flakka is a man-made drug, also known as a synthetic or designer drug. Flakka is created from a synthetic version of a stimulant in the cathinone class known as alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone or alpha-PVP. Cathinone is a chemical substance naturally found in the khat plant, native to Arabia and East Africa, where the leaves of the plant are chewed on to produce a mildly stimulating effect. 

Flakka is made from a compound called alpha-PVP, a chemical cousin of cathinone, the amphetamine-like drug found in bath salts.

Here’s the worst part: While the active ingredient in bath salts was officially banned in 2011, its newer relative, alpha-PVP, was not.

That means it is legal in any state without its own ban.

flakka. A synthetic drug
flakka. A synthetic drug

Flakka vs. Bath Salts

People often compare flakka to bath salts. This is because these two substances are very similar in chemical structure and have close to the same effects. 

The primary difference between flakka and bath salts is that flakka doesn’t contain the 3,4 methylenedioxy motif in its atom structure. Bath salts, on the other hand, do contain this motif in their structure. Despite their differences though, flakka and bath salts essentially give off the same effects. 

Both bath salts and Flakka can lead to overdose and death. Methods of consumption between the two substances are similar. Both flakka and bath salts can be sold under the guise of cleaners for jewelry or plant food. 

Flakka Drug Effects


One of the initial flakka symptoms that individuals experience is a sense of euphoria. Along with this euphoric feeling comes flakka symptoms of being focused and stimulated. 

An increase in sex drive and an increased desire to be social also occur when using flakka. Once these initial flakka drug effects wear off and users take more of the substance, more serious effects will occur. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the next level of flakka drug effects cause excited delirium. This excited delirium is made out of hyperstimulation, hallucinations, increased strength, and paranoia. 

These flakka drug effects eventually then lead to self-injury, violent aggression, and psychotic episodes. Due to the strength of flakka, this substance can also create dissociative effects in its users.

Once an individual reaches this level of flakka drug effects, the substance may cause negative effects on the user’s body. For example, using flakka can raise the human body temperature to up to 104 degrees. That is considered hyperthermia. 

People that use flakka can also start to experience bodily twitching, seizures, and renal and liver failure. Hypertension, narrowing of the blood vessels, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke, an aneurysm, and death or suicide may also occur. 

Dangers of Mixing Flakka With Other Drugs

Many people mix flakka with other drugs. For example, some people like to mix flakka with opioids. This is very dangerous as it’s very easy to overdose when mixing flakka with other substances such as opioids. In fact, in 2019 a few Ohio residents who mixed flakka with opioids overdosed and died. 

Police officers in other states such as Utah have also found flakka in bags mixed with other drugs such as prescription medications and paraphernalia.  One substance that is particularly popular to mix with flakka is ecstasy. In fact, when added to ecstasy, many people are unaware that they are also taking flakka. 

This is highly dangerous as people who abuse ecstasy can take the substance not realizing that it’s laced with flakka. These people can then overdose. It’s because more and more people are mixing and lacing popular substances with flakka that so many teens and adults in America have taken flakka without knowing it. 

Dangers of Flakka Addiction

Flakka is a dangerous drug to consume even on its own since it’s made out of a combination of harmful ingredients. 

Due to the combination of ingredients in flakka, it’s 10 times stronger than cocaine. Unfortunately, due to flakka’s affordability and all the different ways a person can consume it, it’s an easy drug to abuse. 

It’s Affordable

In fact, when it comes to affordability, a hit of flakka only costs $3 to $5. That’s inexpensive when you compare it to drugs like cocaine that can cost up to $80 a gram. 

The High From Flakka Lasts An Incredibly Long Time

Flakka is also dangerously easy to abuse due to how long its high lasts. In fact, the high from flakka can last up to about five hours. 

This is much longer than the length of time that the high of many other substances can last. For example, the high from cocaine can only last around 10 to 30 minutes depending on how one consumes it. 

It’s Easy To Overdose on Flakka

Due to the potency of flakka and its long-lasting and powerful high, it’s easy to overdose on it. This is especially true when an individual consumes flakka in certain ways. 

Flakka Drug Effects

For example, vaping flakka has a high rate of overdose. This is because people who vape flakka can’t measure the amount of the substance that they’re ingesting. This can easily cause individuals to consume too much flakka at one time. 

The excessive amount of flakka that a person can consume through vaping will then enter the bloodstream too quickly. This will cause the body’s system to become overwhelmed, which will then cause the body to overdose. 

It Causes Users to Lose All Touch With Reality

Flakka symptoms can also cause individuals to lose all touch with reality. In doing so, flakka users can become crazed and aggressive to the point where they’re acting like mad animals. An example of this flakka drug effect occurred in Miami in 2012. 

During this incident, a man who was excessively high on flakka stripped naked and ate the face of another man like a wild animal in broad daylight. Police officers had to shoot this man four times to get him to stop. 

Flakka Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of synthetic cathinones such as flakka can be intense. Some common withdrawal symptoms of synthetic cathinones such as flakka include anxiety, tremors, paranoia, depression, and sleeping issues. 

Flakka Addiction

Overall, flakka is highly addictive and thus a highly dangerous drug to consume. In animal studies, researchers even found that rats are more addicted to synthetic cathinones such as flakka than crystal meth. Thus, it’s important for individuals that suffer from flakka addiction to get addiction treatment as soon as possible. 

Flakka Addiction Treatment

To receive flakka addiction treatment, one should attend detox followed by addiction treatment for stimulants. Due to how addictive flakka is, it’s probably best to attend inpatient or residential addiction treatment when treating a flakka addiction. Those with mild flakka addictions can attend an outpatient form of addiction treatment, though. 

After completing addiction treatment for flakka addiction, one should receive aftercare treatment in the form of 12-step program meetings and extended therapy. Receiving such aftercare treatment will help make it easier for a recovering flakka addict to maintain long-term sobriety. 

Receive Detox and Addiction Treatment Services at CNV Detox

At CNV Detox, we understand that people can develop addictions to a wide variety of substances. That’s why we offer such a wide variety of specialized detox and addiction treatment programs. Thus, whether you suffer from addiction to a synthetic, amphetamine-like stimulant like flakka or some other substance, you can find an addiction treatment program that will fit your needs here. 

To learn more about CNV Detox and the various detox, addiction treatment, and addiction therapy programs and services that we offer, feel free to contact us. Located in Los Angeles, California, our family-owned and operated detox and addiction treatment facility would love to help you achieve sobriety and get your life back on track.