The real story behind lurid tales of “Zombie drug” Flakka drug outbreak and its effect on users sheds a sobering light on the perils of using synthetic cathinones (also known as bath salts). In 2014 and 2015, South Florida experienced a drug crisis fueled by a dangerous new form of synthetic cathinone named “flakka.” Flakka users display uncontrollable, bizarre behavior and symptoms, and over the course of 16 months, the flakka drug outbreak accounted for more than 60 deaths and countless hospital admittances.
The Flakka drug outbreak has almost disappeared from circulation now, but other addictive bath salts have taken its place, posing a serious risk to users craving the cheap high that these drugs provide.
Flakka Drug Outbreak
Reports of flakka being responsible for a series of cannibalistic attacks in South Florida have since been disproven, as the participants turned out to have no bath salts in their bloodstream. At the height of the flakka drug outbreak, overwhelmed Emergency Rooms in Broward County were admitting up to 90 flakka users a day, who were suffering from nightmarish hallucinations that led to uncontrollable behavior.
At the height of the flakka epidemic between 2014 and 2015, Broward County had 63 deaths attributed to flakka from acute intoxication, suicides, heart attacks, and other factors. After the Chinese government finally banned alpha-PVP in October of 2015, sales of flakka dried up and the drug has almost disappeared, with other synthetic cathinones taking its place.
What is Flakka?
Flakka is the street name for a particularly potent synthetic cathinone drug known as alpha-PVP, a chemical manufactured in China and shipped to dealers in the US. Also known as gravel, it is cheap, costing just $5 a dose, and has incredible abuse potential. Flakka appeared in cities around the country starting in 2013. Synthetic cathinones are highly addictive stimulants that are chemically similar to cocaine, amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA.
The drugs are frequently sold under the label of bath salts to try to avoid regulation. Flakka in its pure form may have disappeared, but key components of the drug sometimes appear in formulations of Molly and Ecstasy. Users of these drugs think they are getting a pure form, but expose themselves to the negative effects without even realizing it.
Flakka Drug Effects
Flakka addicts experience all the typical bath salt side effects, plus a few unique to alpha-PVP. Bath salt and flakka side effects include panic attacks, hallucinations, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and seizures. Some Flakka drug effects can linger for months, including paranoia, mental confusion, and a debilitating attention deficit.
One of the noted flakka drug effects was a high fever that could reach temperatures of 105 degrees Fahrenheit and a feeling as if users’ skin was on fire, reportedly resulting in several addicts stripping bare in public.
Flakka is more potent than methamphetamine and is believed to be more highly addictive. The loss of concentration flakka addiction causes can be so severe it affects addicts’ path to recovery, as they can only attend therapy sessions for half an hour before completely losing focus.
Some of the mental and physical damage may be permanent, including kidney damage or kidney failure. Now that flakka has all but disappeared, other synthetic cathinones have taken its place.
It is difficult to overcome flakka addiction and other bath salts, but White Sands Tampa, with around the clock care and a committed focus on recovery, can make it possible. You don’t have to go through this alone. Achieve a life of long-lasting recovery and one that you can be proud of.
If you are concerned that a loved one may be suffering from flakka addiction, or if you have other questions about drug addiction treatments, call White Sands Tampa at (877) 855-3470 so that our caring, compassionate counselors can help you take the next step towards recovery.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.