Flakka is a relatively new, synthetic drug that has gained notoriety in Australia, and it’s now emerging elsewhere as well. The first reported flakka death was reported in 2012, but they continue to show up in news headlines. While it is still most popular in Australia, there is no reason to believe the drug won’t gain international popularity in the years to come.
What Is Flakka?
Flakka is a synthetic drug classified as an NPS, which stands for New (or “Novel”) Psychoactive Substance. Flakka is the street name for a new NPS form and is sometimes referred to as “gravel” due its appearance.
Considered part of the “bath salt” family, flakka looks like a light-colored gravel-textured or “icy” substance. Flakka can be sold in its granule or crystal form by the baggie or in capsules. Sometimes the flakka has been chemically altered to be different colors and almost appear to look like sprinkles or sugar. Flakka can be swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted.
How Is Flakka Sold?
Flakka is sold illegally, but its marketing is most similar to those of bath salts. Flakka may be sold in what seems a legal fashion, in small packets labelled “not for human consumption” or with a misleading name and description. Like all drugs, flakka is commonly sold by dealers in cities and in night clubs. However, dealers are misleading buyers by telling them flakka is a safe alternative to other drugs and encouraging its consumption despite knowing nothing about it. Flakka is relatively inexpensive and can typically be sold in pretty large quantities for sharing for under thirty dollars.
How Does Flakka Work?
Flakka was designed to be a stimulant and enhance emotions, physicality, touch, awareness and mood. Flakka is derived from known compound alpha-PVP, but there is relatively little information regarding how flakka itself works in the brain. Most people feel the effects of flakka about a half hour after consumption, and its effects can last for hours. Most often, the effect of flakka are compared to those of LSD and PCP.
What Are the Effects of Flakka?
Flakka isn’t regulated, so it’s impossible to determine how it would affect any individual. The effects of the drug itself seem unpredictable between users, and this could be because manufacturers of the substance are creating and cutting it differently. Most people cite enhanced feelings, hallucinations or temporary psychosis.
Has Anyone Died From Flakka?
There are reported deaths in Australia from flakka. Australia is considered to be amid an “ice” drug epidemic, which makes the crystal flakka all the more monitored and desired. It is possible that flakka deaths have occurred elsewhere, but perhaps law enforcement was unaware of what the substance was at the time. It is likely we will continue to hear about flakka in the near future.
In addition to deaths, flakka is reported as causing very bizarre behavior. In 2014, it was reported that a woman under the influence of flakka was transported from a nightclub to the hospital after licking the dance floor compulsively until her tongue was shredded.
How to Help With the Flakka Craze
If you see someone selling or ingesting crystals, bath salts, ice or a substance that looks like colored sugar, it may be flakka. Flakka is extremely dangerous and is linked to deaths, self-destructive behaviors and harming others. We all likely remember the story of a man on bath salts eating another man’s face off, and flakka is considered an even stronger substance. Please call authorities if you are suspicious or have seen flakka.