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Spotting Fake Crystal Meth (Potentially Deadly)

Fake crystal meth or flakka is a remarkably powerful stimulant that is 10 to 20 times more potent than cocaine and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

This fake crystal meth reportedly makes users insane, allegedly endows them with superhuman strength, and compels them to display bizarre, “zombie-like” behavior. However, the drug also generates a litany of adverse effects, chief among them are lasting neurological damage and likely overdose. In some cases, flakka use can be fatal — the walking dead, indeed.   

For instance, in 2015, this mysterious and deadly amphetamine substance was responsible for a string of deaths in Broward County, Florida.

According to CBS News, in more than 16 months, law enforcement officials said that 63 flakka users in Fort Lauderdale and its suburbs died from overdoses, accidents, suicides, and homicides.

When the drug swept through this South Florida region in 2015, flakka users “reportedly tore off clothes as their body temperatures spiked to 105 degrees. Some hallucinated that they were gods or that they were being chased. One man impaled himself on a police department fence he tried to scale to escape his imaginary pursuers,” states the CBS News report.

Flakka ,a.k.a. “fake crystal meth,” is extremely dangerous and deadly. While there have been reports that flakka use has dramatically decreased, it remains relatively easy to make and cheap to obtain. Not too long ago, the price for a dose of flakka was said to be between $3 to $5. The folks who are most susceptible to it are young people and those who want drugs but lack the money.

What Is Fake Crystal Meth?  

Flakka is fake crystal meth. It is also the street name for alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), a synthetic cathinone. The name “flakka” is the derivative of a Spanish-language word for a “thin, pretty woman.”

paraphernalia used to create fake meth

It is also similar to the infamous synthetic stimulant known as “bath salts.” Flakka mimics the naturally occurring amphetamine-like stimulant known as cathinone, which is found in the khat plant.

The substance looks like white or pink crystals and comes in rock or pebble form, not unlike crystal meth, which looks like glass fragments or shiny bluish-white rocks. 

Users either smoke, snort, inject, swallow, or vape flakka in an e-cigarette. When flakka is heated up, the smoke gives off a foul-smelling stench that smells like dirty socks, according to MedicineNet.

Alpha-PVP works like cocaine in stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). When it enters the body, it blocks the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, causing an unnatural buildup in dopamine and serotonin. This action is what causes flakka users to enter into a state of excited delirium. 

The Effects of Fake Crystal Meth

The excited delirium will manifest as delusions of heightened strength. Users will also experience a boost in energy, alertness, and sex drive. They will also exhibit elevated mood and be increasingly sociable. This fake crystal meth will also trigger adverse effects like anxiety, paranoia, violent aggression, high body temperature, and diminished appetite.

That’s the least of flakka’s harmful effects. The stimulant unleashes several health effects consistent with most stimulants.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), synthetic cathinones like flakka generates the following health issues:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Chest pains

The delirium that this drug produces also causes the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Skeletal muscle tissue breakdown
  • Kidney failure

NIDA says that the worst outcomes from flakka occur when people snort or inject it. The intoxication that flakka generates can lead to death.

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Fake Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Flakka is addictive. According to NIDA, the drug produces intense, uncontrollable cravings. What’s more, when users stop taking drugs like flakka, it can generate uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors

The overdose symptoms associated with flakka include the following:

  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Seizures
  • Fever over 100 degrees F
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart-related complications
  • Breaking down of muscle tissue

How Professional Treatment Can Help You

One use of flakka can result in an overdose. Even if you do not succumb to overdose, the drug can unleash several hazardous effects that make quitting on your own dangerous. With a drug this volatile and unpredictable, you must seek professional treatment to avoid complications and potential overdose.

In most cases, addiction treatment starts with medical detox where a medical team will detox the flakka and other toxins from your body, and withdrawal symptoms will be treated.  

Detox alone does not address the myriad psychological and emotional wounds of addiction. That’s why treatment after detox is necessary. Depending on the severity of your flakka use, you can enroll in a residential or outpatient treatment program.

NIDA recommends that people with addictions to synthetic cathinones like flakka should receive behavioral health therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and/or motivational enhancement therapy.

Those treatment modalities are available in residential and outpatient treatment. If your case is deemed severe, a clinician will recommend residential treatment where you can reside at the treatment site and receive comprehensive, full-time care.

Milder cases are typically recommended for an outpatient program, which still entitles a client to receive the therapies provided. However, they will have the freedom to live independently. 


Anjum, J., & Aggarwal, R. (2016, August 08). Flakka: A Deadly High. Retrieved from

CBS News. (2016, April 08). After ravaging Florida, street drug flakka disappears. Retrieved from

Cunha, J. P. (n.d.). Flakka Side Effects, Drug Complications & Symptoms. Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Methamphetamine. Retrieved from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Synthetic Cathinones ("Bath Salts"). Retrieved from

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