Flakka is a highly addictive designer drug that causes paranoia and psychosis. Dubbed the ‘zombie drug’ it is sometimes known as gravel, is closely related to bath salts, a synthetic cathinone. Now, the drug has made its way to South Africa.
A day out drinking with friends turned into a nightmare for a Westcliff man after their drinks were allegedly laced with a new synthetic street drug called ‘Flakka’ at a bar in Pinetown on October 28.
Brandon Naidoo* (24) was stabilised at Life Chatsmed Hospital and later transferred to RK Khan Hospital where he was hospitalised for three days while his friends, Denzil Govender* (21) and Pravesh Pillay* (26) were also admitted following bizarre behaviour, agitation, frothing from the mouth, and paranoia.
After they were treated and stabilised, Naidoo’s family members notified a member of the Metro Police Rapid Response Unit, who assisted with setting up a joint operation with the National Intervention Unit and the Metro Police Dog Unit to apprehend the dealer of the deadly new drug.
A 32-year-old Nigerian man was arrested during the operation and was charged for dealing in the drug (Flakka). Speaking about the horrific ordeal, Naidoo, the father of a three-year-old boy, said that this was the worst thing that ever happened to him.
“We went to the bar at around 2pm and shortly after ordering a round of ciders, the bar owner came over and told us to purchase a fish bowl, which is a cocktail of drinks served in a round bowl. After much convincing, we ordered the fish bowl and after consuming its contents, the next thing we knew was that we woke up in hospital and it was Sunday. We were robbed of our cash, amounting to over R8, 000 collectively, and valuables,” he explained.
Naidoo added, “We were told by our friends, neighbours and family members that we behaved bizarrely. All three of us were climbing trees, walls and hallucinating. I vaguely remember seeing my friends frothing. I didn’t know that I was also frothing at the time. I could see that they were in trouble but I could not react to help them and they said they felt the same,” he said.
Naidoo further stated that when his wife arrived at the hospital, he could not control his actions and bit her hand so hard that a chunk of her flesh fell off.
What is flakka made of?
There’s nothing remotely natural about flakka. The pharmaceutical name for the designer drug is a-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone – otherwise known as a-PVP or alpha-PVP – a chemical compound originally synthesized in the 1960s.
The Drug Policy Alliance calls it the “second-generation bath salts.” Flakka comes as a foul-smelling white or pink crystal that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, you can snort, eat, inject or even vape.
Like bath salts, the substance is packaged in plastic bags or vials and labeled “not for human consumption” or “plant food.” You can buy it online or off the street.
How powerful is flakka?
Like bath salts, flakka simulates the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine without the price tag. That’s why the designer drug has become so popular among college-age adults – since it’s 10 times more powerful than coke. But the exhilaration caused by flakka is actually significantly more potent than one would feel from a naturally derived drug like cocaine, said Dr. Indra Cidambi, addiction medicine expert and founder/medical director of Center for Network Therapy. “The high is pretty high and getting off takes longer,” Cidambi said. Several days even.
Why is flakka dangerous?
Flakka is known to spike your body temperature up to 104 degrees, if not higher. An extremely high body temperature can have dire consequences – it can lead to kidney damage or kidney failure, and even death. The synthetic drug can also elevate your blood pressure, which can cause a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, or heart failure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How brutal are flakka’s side effects?
People who use flakka will at first feel euphoric, highly sociable, stimulated, more focused and have an increased sex drive, said Cidambi. But the anticipated high will wear off quickly, leaving users to up their flakka intake. And the more someone abuses the designer drug, she added, the more they will begin to feel the negative side effects.
Flakka users will experience what the National Institute on Drug Abuse calls “excited delirium“: a debated condition involving hallucinations, paranoia, increased strength and hyperstimulation. Your heart will race. You will have panic attacks. Your sex drive will plummet. You may become depressed and suicidal.
And like Harrouff, you could become extremely psychotic and violent. “It’s easy to get there, though,” Cidambi said. “As you crash you’re going to feel all the withdrawal you want to not feel … unfortunately it’s their tolerance that pushes them to the other side.” Vaping with flakka will make you feel these effects far quicker than any other method because the drug goes straight in your blood stream. That could easily lead to an overdose, the federal health institute states.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Rising Sun Chatsworth