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What Are the Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Flakka Use?

Flakka is a powerful and dangerous street drug that is growing in popularity.

The drug has many short-term and long-term effects on the mind and body, including panic attacks, hallucinations, and delusions. Due to its greatly unpredictable effects, use of flakka is considered very dangerous.

What Is Flakka Exactly?

Flakka is a synthetic compound, alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP). It is known on the street as gravel and flock. The drug is known as being a more potent version of bath salts. 

Flakka is typically found in pink or white crystal form. The crystal will usually smell bad, and it is taken by snorting it, eating it, injecting it, or vaporizing it in an e-cigarette. Vaporizing the drug makes you more susceptible to overdose, as it more rapidly enters the bloodstream.

Flakka belongs to the stimulant class of drugs. It is known for causing a state of hyperstimulation. 

Flakka did not become an officially controlled substance until 2014. Now, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has categorized flakka as a Schedule I drug. This is the highest classification for a drug, meaning it has no useful medical use and a high risk for abuse. 

A study published by ScienceDirect found that a very low percentage of high school students have used flakka. According to the study, less than 1 percent of high school seniors had used the drug once during 2016 to 2017.

A Dangerous Drug

When on flakka, users may experience hallucinations, paranoia, and delirium that can result in violent, aggressive, and erratic tendencies. Many have likened the drug to a combination of methamphetamine and cocaine. 

Flakka is frightening because it provides the effects of cocaine and meth, only it is far cheaper, often only $5 a gram.

Flakka has been linked to a number of bizarre events, including a man stabbing a Florida couple and then allegedly attempting to eat them.

In addition to causing violent behavior, flakka also appears to give users increased physical strength.

Increased Potency

Flakka has been characterized by its unparalleled ability to quickly destroy the mind and body.

Woman sitting up in bed suffering from insomnia from flakka

The Sun Sentinel recently did a piece on flakka in response to rising concern about the drug. Doctors and researchers are scrambling to figure out how the drug causes organ failure and destroys the kidneys. Research is ongoing on how to provide appropriate emergency treatment for flakka overdose.

Florida, in particular, has been affected by this new drug craze. In Broward County, their emergency rooms are treating around 30 patients a day for flakka-related issues.

Flakka is similar to bath salts, but it is actually 30 times more potent.

The synthetic drug was never intended for human consumption, which is partially why there are not a lot of studies that have examined its effects on humans. 

Short-Term Effects

Short-term effects that have been observed in those abusing flakka include:

  • Agitation
  • Chest pain
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nosebleeds
  • Increase heart rate
  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heightened body temperature
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Muscle spasms
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Severe paranoia
  • Overdose
  • Death

Flakka’s effects are fast-acting, so users feel them quickly. People may experience unpleasant short-term effects very quickly after taking the drug.

Flakka is very dangerous because it can cause a total loss of inhibitions. Users often exhibit unpredictable and violent behaviors that are completely out of character. 

If you witness someone who has taken flakka behaving erratically, call 911. It may not be safe to approach them on your own.

Long-Term Effects

Even if users do not experience immediate health issues from flakka use, problems are likely with long-term use. Long-term effects of flakka include:

  • Anxiety problems
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Mental illness
  • Depression
  • Muscle damage
  • Other organ damage

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Chronic flakka use can cause serious problems that may require long-term medical treatment. In some cases, these issues can result in death.

Flakka use has been linked to suicides, heart attacks, and kidney failure. 

Can the Effects Be Reversed?

The effects of flakka are not easy to reverse. The psychological effects of flakka are typically treated with depressants, such as benzodiazepines, to counteract violent and aberrant behavior.

The cardiac effects are often addressed with intravenous (IV) administration of low-dose norepinephrine to normalize blood pressure and heart rate. 

While some steps can be taken to combat flakka toxicity in the short term, long-term damage from the drug often cannot be reversed. Organ damage, including brain damage, may be permanent. 


Overall, flakka is an extremely potent and dangerous drug. It causes both short-term and long-term effects that can severely damage one’s health.

Since there is still little known about the drug, many of its effects are unpredictable. Anyone who decides to use it is essentially acting as a guinea pig. The effects could be devastating. 


(December 2018) Flakka Side Effects, Drug Complications, & Symptoms. MedicineNet. Retrieved February 2019 from

(June 2015) Flakka’s Freakout: Stimulating brain chemicals into fatal shutdown. The Sun Sentinel. Retrieved February 2019 from

(2018) “Flakka” use among high school seniors in the United States. ScienceDirect. Retrieved February 2019 from

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