Recovery Matters

Flakka the “Zombie Drug”: The Horror is Real

Flakka the “Zombie Drug”

Flakka has been described as 10 times more powerful than Cocaine and more addictive than Tik (methamphetamine). It can overheat your body to the point where your organs – including your brain – literally boil. The Internet is full of videos showing users “possessed” by the drug: smashing head-first into cars, running around naked, contorting and babbling in agony and fear.

Everything You Need To Know About Flakka

Is it really that bad? Unfortunately, yes. And it’s here in SA.

Houghton House Combats New zombie Drug Flakka Just last weekend three Durban men were admitted to hospital after ingesting flakka at a bar in Pinetown. They were wildly disorientated, frothing at the mouth, hallucinating and uncontrollably violent. One man bit a chunk out of a woman’s hand. It took four people to restrain each patient – and they were hospitalised for three days. One man only narrowly escaped death when his heart actually stopped and he was treated for cardiac arrest.

So, what is Flakka?

What is Flakka – Flakka is not entirely new, even though its effects are far worse than anything before it. Also known as “gravel” because of its coarse granular texture, it is typically pink or white and is found in crystal form. It is a completely synthetic chemical compound called alpha-Pryrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP). It is derived from cathinone, now banned in the US and China (where it was originally synthesised). This amphetamine-like drug was found in bath salts, hence it is also known on the street as the “bath salts” drug.

Why is the zombie drug so popular?

When flakka first appeared on the scene in 2012, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it was also called the “$5 insanity drug” – which gives you a clue as to why it became popular so fast; it is much cheaper than drugs like cocaine. And the high from a single dose can last for 3-4 hours.

It’s relatively easy to get hold of – it can be bought on the street or ordered online. And it’s easy to take: It can be crushed and snorted, injected, swallowed and is often smoked in a vape.

What are the effects of Flakka?

The effects of Flakka  – Like most methamphetamine, it provides a fast, intense high. Serotonin and dopamine are released in large quantities, providing a sense of euphoria, exhilaration and confidence. You’ll feel physically stronger and you might feel an increased sex drive initially (although repeat users will find their sex drive disappears entirely).

So, why should you avoid it like a bite from the Walking Dead?

Unfortunately, flakka also blocks the body’s ability to metabolise the excessive dopamine and serotonin. Overstimulation of the neurotransmitters causes your body to go into overdrive.

Feelings of excitement inevitably give way to violent aggression, delirium, loss of coordination and paranoia. Couple that with hyper-strength and you are in a position to hurt yourself – and others – seriously. Your heart rate increases and may become irregular. Flakka also makes your body temperature soar to dangerously high levels – up to 42°C. At this point, your blood is no longer able to clot; you are in danger of internal bleeding and at risk of multi-organ failure with lung, liver, kidney and brain injuries.

Seizures are common, which is why it’s called the zombie drug. Check out those unfortunate flakka cases on YouTube. Increased blood pressure also puts strain on your heart, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

If you’re lucky enough to survive, brain damage is just one thing to contend with; renal (kidney) failure means users could spend the rest of their lives on dialysis.

In short, with flakka, there’s a thin line between getting high and saying goodbye.

Flakka side-effects at a glance

  • Agitation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Extreme aggression
  • Psychosis
  • Severe hallucinations
  • Seizure
  • Raised body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Death
Disclaimer: “Flakka is brand new in SA and we are still learning about it but we will bring you the facts as more come to light.”
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Article written by: Alistair Mathie

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