Many people have heard of designer drugs such as Molly or Ecstasy, but the latest drug to hit the streets goes by a different name, Flakka or Flocka. The name comes from the Spanish slang term for a beautiful woman (“la flaca”), This new drug, also known “gravel” based on its physical appearance, can be snorted, smoked, injected, or swallowed. It is similar to amphetamines in that it increases the level of dopamine in the body, making it an “upper.” Yet, the negative side effects are what are creating headlines across the United States:
While amphetamines can produce feelings of euphoria, use of Flakka also results in hallucinations, increased body temperature, and violent behavior. These experiences have led to bizarre and sometimes deadly reactions by those using the drug. The drug can be snorted, smoked or taken orally and can cause violent behavior. One of the most notorious side effects is an increase in aggression and super-human like strength. Flakka is addictive in character, similar to other amphetamines. Additionally, this new drug has become progressively more popular due to its low price and effect on users.
Flakka shares similarities with drugs known as bath salts. These drugs cause users to hallucinate and are composed of a compound named alpha-PVP. Alpha-PVP, which is a synthetic version of the amphetamine-like stimulant cathinone, the known compound in bath salts. The legal difference between the two compounds is cathinone was banned in 2011, while alpha-PVP is not recognized as illegal in many states.
The reports of people becoming aggressive and exhibiting superior strength have to do with how the chemical compound reacts with the body. Flakka contains alpha-PVP which binds on the surface of neurons and prevents dopamine and serotonin from working. Dopamine and serotonin are mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Without dopamine and serotonin, the brain is flooded by mind-altering chemicals which often causes uninhibited aggression.
There were no known cases of flakka use in 2010. However, this past year there were 670 reported cases pertaining to the drug. The minimal cost of the drug is one of the leading factors in the increase of popularity.
While Flakka may still be legal in other states, Texas has included any drug containing the compound alpha-PVP as illegal. Specifically, Sec. 481.103 of the Health and Safety Code includes Flakka as a Penalty Group 2 substance which is illegal to use or possess.
(a) Penalty Group 2 consists of:
(1) any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers, unless specifically excepted, if the existence of these salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation. . . alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Also known as alpha-PVP)….
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