Most people have seen the terrifying videos of people who almost look like zombies. These people are obviously under the influence of something, but their behavior can look like anything from extreme rage to extreme hallucinations and disorientation. No, this is not a zombie apocalypse, it’s flakka. While we are all familiar with the current opioid epidemic, the crack epidemic of the past, the dangers of cocaine and methamphetamine, and of course the disease of alcoholism, every once a while, a new drug comes onto the scene, seemingly worse than we’ve ever had. This has been especially popular lately, as more and more “party drugs” are being reported for their dangerous side effects, but so far, flakka seems to be the scariest one. What is Flakka? Chemically, flakka is a drug that is derived from synthetic cathinone, similar to “bath salts”, except much more potent. At their core, cathinones are derived from the Kha plants, found locally in Africa and the middle east. On its own, the plant has been known to have very slight amphetamine-like side effects, such as suppressing the appetite, boosting energy levels, and even euphoria. Natives have been chewing khat leaves for thousands of years, similar to the coca leaf in South America. However, the synthetic version, otherwise known as Alpha-PVP, has a much stronger, and potentially deadly chemical compound added to it. When it enters the body, it has some pretty alarming side effects. The drug usually comes in a crystal form and can be smoked, snorted, ingested, and ingested. It can also be put into e-cigarettes and vaped, which is the most common method in the cases of overdose. Side Effects of Flakka Just like in those videos you’ve seen, of people running naked through traffic, or multiple police officers restraining one person, the side effects of flakka can sometimes almost look demonic. This is the most serious case and doesn’t happen to everyone, but primarily, the side effects are as follows: Dry mouth Increased Blood Pressure Bizarre and erratic behavior (whispering to themselves, growling) The belief of having Superhuman Strength Extreme Agitation Jerking, Muscular movements Delirium and paranoia Hallucinations Seizures, Dehydration, and Hyperthermia Apart from the shocking visual side effects, severe damage can truly happen to both the brain and the body of a flakka user. For someone who uses Flakka frequently, permanent delirium can begin to take place over time. People have developed extreme paranoia, even in sobriety, and those who do get sober can often struggle with extreme mood swings, depression, and anxiety. This is because Flakka acts in the brain as an extreme dopamine booster. Over time, the dopamine receptors in the brain can literally deplete or under fire from the drug. Not to mention, overdose is a real and very common possibility for flakka users, even if it is the first time. Primarily speaking, the drug is made in a foreign lab, and the ingredients are never clear to the user. People have overdosed on very small amounts, according to medical officials, and they often died of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure from dehydration, and even suicide as a release from the hallucinations. The Legalities Around Flakka Most people have their focus fixed on the opioid epidemic that is currently ravaging the country, as they very well should be. However, with that being said, there needs to continue to be a debate on other dangerous drugs such as meth and Flakka. According to some researchers, Flakka is now in the top 6 most commonly used, illegal drugs in America, and it is being shipped over from China. As of now, the government has started cracking down on importation from China, as it is also the location that the deadly Carfentanyl and highly addictive Kratom originate from. Not to mention, the USPS, FedEx, and other international mailing companies are starting to monitor any shipments from flagged countries, as well as keeping recorded data information about the senders and receivers of these packages. On U.S. soil, Cathinones such as bath salts and Flakka have been scheduled as a Schedule I drug, and are completely illegal. However, for each new chemical compound of this drug that comes out and is banned, foreign factories are changing the recipes by one molecule and sending over that new compound. What to Do if You or a Loved One uses Flakka While the mental and physical destruction of flakka can be devastating, it doesn’t always have to remain that way. All over the country, thousands of people are recovering from addictions to Flakka every day. The road will be bumpy, and it will not always be easy, but it will be worth it. Here is what you need to do: Detoxification in a Medical Facility Flakka can damage the dopamine receptors in the brain, so after the last use, a user can become extremely depressed, anxious, and in worst cases, suicidal. It is always a good bet to detox in a medical facility, which will have professional staff on hand, doctors available, and medications that can ease the detox process. Inpatient Treatment As the brain will take some time to regulate, the first few months of getting clean and sober can be the hardest. Many people experience severe mood swings, intense cravings, and some resemblances of paranoia and agitation, and working directly with trained, psychological and medical staff can literally save their lives during these hard periods. This will also ensure that the user is separated from the drug long enough for their brain functioning to return back to a healthy working state. Therapy and a Recovery Program Most people who abuse drugs have experienced some sort of pain or trauma in their lives, and it can often be extremely beneficial to regularly speak with a trained psychologist. These doctors can help them uncover and process any past traumas and can teach them coping tools for the future. While not everyone chooses to work a 12 step program, it has been shown to save lives for close to 90 years. There are also other recovery programs out there, such as SMART recovery, Celebrate Recovery, Meditation recovery, etc. For women, recovering from stimulant drugs such as Flakka is difficult. Women are often introduced to stimulants by a romantic partner. Women also tend to keep turning to stimulants for weight loss. Other factors include issues with trauma, anxiety, and depression. Without addressing those issues, recovery is difficult.