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Effects of Flakka Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

Is Flakka Harmful?

Flakka is a street drug with origins in South Florida. One of the newer chemicals in the booming category of synthetic or designer drugs, Flakka is typically made from a synthetic version of an amphetamine-like stimulant in the cathinone class called alpha-PVP.

Cathinones are chemicals derived from the khat plant originating in the Middle East and Somalia—where the leaves are frequently chewed for a euphoric buzz.

People who use Flakka can display cases of bizarre and uncontrollable behavior. Though Flakka is a relatively new synthetic drug, data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown it to be as potent as methamphetamine, and it has an even higher propensity for addiction development in those who abuse it.

Short-Term Effects of Flakka Use

Similar to other stimulants, Flakka use results in a flood of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Additionally, Flakka hinders the reuptake of this neurotransmitter by the brain cells, producing an intense feeling of euphoria.

Similar to cocaine and amphetamines, short-term effects of Flakka include:

  • Euphoric sensations.
  • Rapid heart rate and palpitations.
  • Increase in blood pressure.
  • Alertness.
  • Aggressive behavior.

The effects of the comedown from Flakka (the period when the drug leaves the body) include fatigue and depression.

This period often results in users returning to the drug to get rid of the negative comedown feeling, jump-starting a cycle of use that can lead to abuse. As tolerance to the drug develops, the user will require more and more Flakka to feel high, risking dangerous effects, overdose, and even death.

At high doses, Flakka can affect the body’s temperature; it will reach high temperatures and sometimes this extreme change can lead to muscle breakdown and subsequent kidney damage.

The immediate and long-term effects of Flakka can rival those of some of the strongest crystal meth and cocaine.

Long-Term Effects of Flakka Use

Long-term effects of Flakka use are not yet published. Flakka is one of the more recent synthetic drugs and research into its effects isn’t extensive. However, research that has been conducted has shown that the drug can be toxic to the kidneys and cause renal failure.

The unknown effects of Flakka have many alarmed about its use and popularity, as no one knows what exactly the drug can do to the body and brain in the long term.

The following video brings attention to the serious dangers of Flakka use, even for first-time users.

Credit: CBSN

Flakka Dependence

Flakka dependence in humans is still being researched. Scientists have shown that Flakka is as addictive as bath salts in rodent studies, however. Even after the scientists made the drug difficult for the rats to obtain, they persisted in pushing a lever several times that administered the drug if they failed to get it from the scientists first.

Flakka is believed to have similar addiction potential to bath salts and methamphetamine—two highly addictive stimulant substances.

Withdrawal Treatment/Treatment for Flakka Addiction

Treatment for Flakka addiction includes a number of steps that are beneficial in streamlining the recovery process.

Intake Procedures

A thorough physical and psychological assessment is taken. Evaluation by qualified addiction treatment professionals will assure that proper detox measures, as well as the most effective treatment design, are applied to each individual situation.   


Commonly, the first phase of treatment is detox. Withdrawal can be very painful and uncomfortable, and it is important be under medical supervision so that the symptoms are monitored and managed.

Adjunct Therapy

Various behavioral therapies may be offered, including:

Family Participation

Since being cut off from loved ones may be of particular concern for an individual, incorporating the participation of family members —e.g. in the context of family therapy—is often part of treatment.

Paying for Rehab Treatment

Treatment offers a supportive and safe environment where:

  • A person’s physical symptoms can be stabilized.
  • Psychological issues can be dealt with.
  • Coping skills can be successfully acquired.

The cost of these programs varies according to treatment type. Costs of residential treatment programs will frequently be higher than those of outpatient centers. Luxury drug rehab centers can cost as much as tens of thousands of dollars per month to attend. This being said, it is important for anyone considering rehab to understand that the cost of Flakka addiction for a person’s mental and physical health is far more expensive than the cost of treatment, with or without insurance coverage.

In the instance that health insurance does not cover the entire cost, other methods of paying for treatment include:

  • Private loans (help from friends and family).
  • Public loans or publicly funded rehab stints.
  • Employee assistance programs.
  • Selling personal assets.

Aftercare Programs

Staying clean and sober after you leave a Flakka rehab facility is just as important as seeking treatment. The right centers will typically offer aftercare options for you, including:

  • Weekly check-ins. Weekly check-ins by phone are conducted to monitor the progress of patients and help with any obstacles.
  • Drop-in sessions. These sessions let patients stop by the center for a meeting whenever they need additional support.
  • Support programs. Support programs can consist of group therapy, support groups, family therapy, etc.

Find Flakka Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available and recovery is possible. Treatment can start anyone battling a substance use problem on the path to a healthier and happier life. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and a variety of treatment types is available. You can use SAMHSA’s Find Treatment tool to search for facilities. Many state government websites will provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab programs across the country. We are available 24/7 to take your call on our confidential phone line. For helpful advice, information, or admissions, please contact a caring AAC representative free at .

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