What is the drug ‘flakka’?
As recently as June this year Alpha-PVP – known on the street as flakka – pronounced Flack-er (like slacker) – has been added to the poisons list in Australia. According to the TGA, Flakka has “significant stimulant and psychoactive effects … [and] human use has resulted in death.”
How do you take Flakka?
According to the NZ Drug Foundation, flakka can be smoked, inhaled, injected or swallowed, and can even be vaped using an e-cigarette. As harmless as vaping might sound, it allows the drug to enter the bloodstream really quickly making it “particularly easy to overdose” according to drugabuse.gov.
Why is it nicknamed the ‘zombie drug’?
Nicknamed the Zombie Drug, Flakka looks like bath salts or large rocks of sea salt and has many street names, including ‘The Flak’, ‘Niff’ and the ‘Gravel’ drug.
People under the influence have been found writhing around on the floor with their eyes rolled back in their heads – just like a zombie. Videos show them running in fear from non-existent predators, taking their clothes off and claiming to be God. Florida teenager Austin Harrouff was just 19 and deemed to be high on flakka when he stabbed and murdered Michelle Mishcon and her husband John Stevens before biting off pieces of Stevens’ face.
What are the side effects of Flakka?
Common side effects are stripping off your clothes, fear that you’re being chased and overriding aggression.
“People think they’re being chased, being shot at, the devil is chasing them,” says Dr Nabil N Sanadi, President of North Broward Hospital district in Florida where cases of flakka have been increasing since 2000.
The drug can raise serotonin and dopamine which initially makes users feel good but the problem is once the delayed effects take hold. The effects last between three to five hours.
How is flakka made?
Made from Alpha-PVP – a synthetic cathinone, it creates a state known as ‘excited delirium’ and can be easily purchased online. Flakka can be purchased for as little as $7.50 for a hit. Reports claim the drug is becoming more popular in Australia with most of the shipments coming from mainland China.
The West Australian reported that Alpha-PVP has been linked to at least one death in Australia, after truck driver Glenn Punch injected the drug before stripped off his clothes, jumping a barbed-wire fence, smashing a window in a psychotic fit and then going into cardiac arrest.
“It’s looking like it’s more dangerous and prevalent than any other drug we’ve seen in emergency medicine over the years,” says Dr Sanadi.
How prevalent is Flakka in Australia?
Flakka is becoming more prevalent in Australia and one of the dangers is, “it actually starts to rewire the brain chemistry,” Don Maines, a drug treatment counsellor in Fort Lauderdale, told Associated Press. “They have no control over their thoughts. They can’t control their actions. It seems to be universal that they think someone is chasing them. It’s just a dangerous, dangerous drug.”