What is it?
Flakka is a synthetic stimulant of the cathinone class that was developed in the 1960s. The drug is technically called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP) but more commonly known as “flakka.”
Flakka gets its name from Spanish slang for a beautiful woman (“la flaca”) and first became popular in Florida before surging across the country. The origin of the drug is primarily China. It comes to the US through online sales, gas stations, and other dealers. A dose sells for about $5 or less, which makes it an attractive alternative to cocaine. Dealers often target young people and poor people, frequently persuading the homeless to buy and sell. Flakka is a designed drug that contains a chemical closely related to MDPV, a key ingredient in bath salts. The chemicals affect the brain similarly to cocaine and methamphetamine. The difference comes in how long these effects last; the results of flakka last much longer.
What does it look like?
Flakka looks like white crystal chunks or rocks. Many have compared it to the gravel used in aquariums. It is generally white or pink and smells foul.
What are some other names for it?
In addition to flakka, this drug is called alpha-PVP and gravel.
How is it used?
Flakka can be eaten, snorted, smoked, injected, or vaporized in an e-cigarette. Vaporizing sends the drug very quickly into the bloodstream, causing people to overdose easily.
What are the effects of the drug?
Flakka most commonly causes hyperstimulation, also known as “excited delirium.” The effect includes paranoia and hallucinations that can lead to violent behavior. The drug can cause a significant spike in body temperature of 105 degrees or higher, leading to kidney damage and failure. It has also been linked to deaths by suicide and heart attack. The high can last one to several hours, with neurological effects that are likely permanent.
What is its federal classification?
Flakka is a Schedule 1 drug.