The ‘Zombie Drug’ Flakka has been the cause of concern through horrifying headlines overseas but is now becoming a terrifying reality on the streets of Australia.
It seems that every year another synthetic drug creates disturbing headlines in countries across the world. Over the last few years, an increasing number of stories point to a synthetic hallucinogenic referred to as the ‘zombie drug’, otherwise known as ‘Flakka’, ‘The Flak’, ‘Gravel’ or ‘Niff’. Now it has reached the shores of Australia and is causing havoc among its users, as well as those caught along their path. Flakka users are in dire need for proper drug addiction treatment. Let’s find out why.
What Exactly is Flakka?
Flakka, or alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (a-PVP) is a member of the ‘bath salts’ family of recreational drugs with the main component being cathinones. A synthetic stimulant, it originates from a flowering shrub known as khat, native to the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. The leaves of the plant have been chewed across the region for thousands of years due to their euphoric effects on the individual but man-made versions of its cathinone properties are often far stronger and much more dangerous than the effects of chewing leaves.
In the 1930’s, cathine, a psychoactive drug, was found within the khat plant’s genetics. However, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that scientists realised the cathine contained in khat wasn’t enough to create the euphoria observed and that it was, in fact, the cathinones that were responsible for the exhilarating feelings felt. Since then, synthetic derivatives of cathinones have been widely produced in China. Drugs like Flakka are now landing upon Australian shores at an alarming rate with hits being sold for less than $10.
How is Flakka Consumed?
Flakka can be taken in a number of different ways; injected, smoked, snorted and even vaped through the use of an e-cigarette. Vaping Flakka is particularly dangerous as monitoring the amount of the drug ingested through this manner of consumption is near impossible and often leads to overdose. A typical dose is just 0.1 grams but due to the immense potency of the drug, just a little more will lead to the adverse effects of an overdose, often inciting severe hallucinations that leave the user unable to control either their thoughts or their actions. Studies have also shown that crack cocaine users are more susceptible to the effects of Flakka, further amplifying the demented state the drug can leave its users in.
Effects of Flakka on the Mind & Body
Flakka is a cheap thrill and as a result is appealing to those seeking a high who are on a low budget, often being young people and those who are homeless. Intoxicated by the thought of fulfilling their high, many do not realise the severe consequences involved, not only from the immediate effects of the drug but also the long-term ramifications to both their physical and mental health.
Flakka essentially rewires the brain’s chemistry, increasing levels of the feel-good chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine to proportions that are naturally impossible by the human body. The drug’s known ability to rapidly increase body temperature has often accounted for peculiar reports of those under its influence stripping their clothes off while running through the streets in a state of psychosis. Such drastic elevation in a human being’s body temperature can cause kidney damage or ultimate kidney failure resulting in death. In addition, a surge in blood pressure can lead to aneurysm, stroke, heart attack and heart failure.
Its reputation for creating ‘superhuman strength’ further draws users to its so-called mysterious powers. What they don’t realise is that through disturbing pangs of paranoia, assisted by hellish hallucinations, the designer drug that reaps monetary benefit for its suppliers and dealers, creates havoc for users and those around them.
The Horror Stories Are True
The term, ‘zombie drug’ is linked to a number of bizarre incidents that occurred across Florida from 2014, where Flakka’s consumption was first widely witnessed in disturbing proportions alongside equally disturbing tales of terror. It has been associated with suicides caused through extreme paranoia, murders fuelled by uncontrollable rage and, of course, the unforgettably gruesome attack undertaken by a Flakka user turned murderer who chewed the flesh off of his victim’s face.
Since this spate of violence clearly caused by the use of Flakka, the United States has done its best to eliminate the drug through a crackdown on manufacturers in China, enforcement by the law upon dealers, as well as widespread awareness campaigns. However, dealers of such lucrative products don’t shy away so easily from a profit and it seems are now pushing their products upon other nations, where in Australia, the consumption of Flakka is increasing at a worrying rate.
Flakka in Australia
In October 2016, the Gold Coast reported an astonishing 16 suspected cases of Flakka overdose in a 24-hour period, which ultimately resulted in the hospitalisation of all those found under its influence. Police assistance was required to deal with severe hallucinogenic states in order for paramedics to take action. Users were found swimming in canals, running into oncoming traffic or having to be restrained by officers to be controlled.
Another suspected mass Flakka overdose took place in Perth in January of this year where nine people were hospitalised having been found within a home in states of ‘agitated delirium’. News stories, such as these, will only continue and become increasingly worse if the issues surrounding the use of Flakka are not dealt with.
Often referred to as ‘$5 Insanity’, it is a cheap high that comes at a great cost; the life of the user or as has been the case previously, the lives of others.
How to Treat Flakka Addiction
Effective treatment for Flakka addiction is undertaken through a number of steps, such as physical and psychological assessment, detoxification and various behavioural therapy methods. Dealing with any form of drug addiction through the help of qualified individuals is essential and Flakka is no different to any other addictive substance in that an effective treatment programme is vital to aid recovery.
The Cabin Melbourne provides effective out-patient treatments for those found in the grip of a drug addiction. Confidential addiction assessments can be obtained upon contacting us where we endeavour to produce a recovery programme that suits your individual needs. Through a variety of programmes run by highly trained professionals, effective treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation and The 12 Steps all contribute towards a life of sobriety. In addition, Addiction Counselling Services provide ongoing support through a range of supportive methods.
If you are in the grips of an addiction to Flakka or know somebody who is, contact us to learn how our treatment programmes can help.