Flakka, the zombie drug: components and effects - education - 2022 (2022)


  • Appearance of the drug flakka
  • Physical and psychological effects
  • Tachycardia
  • Hypertension
  • myoclonus
  • hyperthermia
  • Arrhythmia
  • myocardial ischemia
  • Sudden death
  • -Psychological effects
  • feelings of euphoria
  • Increased alertness
  • sexual arousal
  • increased energy
  • increased activity
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • extreme aggressiveness
  • Components
  • addictive potential
  • References

Theflakka drug It is a highly stimulating substanceCentral Nervous System that causes multiple physical and psychological alterations. Can be consumed orally, snorted, smoked, or injected

It is a recently appeared designer drug that has begun to be used for recreational purposes. Its consumption has already been detected in multiple countries in Europe, America and Asia.

Flakka, the zombie drug: components and effects - education - 2022 (1)

At present, due to its recent appearance, theliterature about the characteristics of this new substance is scarce. However, there is already some research that has focused on describing the main effects caused by its consumption.

Appearance of the drug flakka

The fact of classifying the drug flakka as a new psychoactive substance lies in the recent appearance of this psychotropic drug. A little over a year ago, the first presence of this substance worldwide was detected.

The appearance of the drug flakka dates back to April 2015 when the police department ofFort Lauderdale in the State of Florida (United States) launched an alert on the appearance and seizure of this substance.

It was determined that it was a synthetic drug that had not been previously marketed or consumed. Likewise, the recreational use of this substance in the state of Florida was associated with a notable increase in the number of violent incidents in that region.

Simultaneously, this drug has been detected in other countries in Europe and Asia, as well as in most regions of the United States.

Physical and psychological effects

The effects of thissynthetic drug they are devastating and the massive increase in their consumption has led to research into their characteristics not being long in coming.

The consumption of this substance causes important alterations in the physical and mental functioning of the person. These alterations seem to be closely related to a very high increase in brain stimulation.

-Physical effects

The physical effects of the drug flakka are not what motivate its consumption. That is to say, the rewarding effects caused by the use of the substance do not result.

However, early research on the drug flakka reports that these effects may be the most damaging and dangerous. They are considered as side effects, which are witnessed in a large number of cases.

Most of the physical symptoms caused by the consumption of the drug flakka are related to the alteration of cardiovascular functioning. When the substance reaches the brain, it performs a high catecholaminergic hyperstimulation that leads to cardiological alterations. Those detected today are:


Flakka drug use is associated with a marked increase and acceleration of heart rate. This substance causes an increase in the contraction of the ventricles and the heart rate is greater than 100 beats per minute at rest.

These effects are usually felt by the user, who may experience palpitations, weakness, choking, or fainting.


The tachycardias produced by the drug can cause a permanent state of arterial hypertension. The numbers of blood pressure in the arteries increases continuously and can lead to serious cardiovascular pathologies.


Myoclonus are brief, jerky, and sudden involuntary movements of the heart. These can be generalized, focal, or multifocal and present in the form of jerks.

Although the type of myoclonus caused by flakka drug use is still not very well described, some cases with this type of condition have been described.


Another of the most detected physical effects in the consumption of flakka drugs is related to body temperature. In fact, it has been described how the use of this substance usually produces an abnormal increase in body temperature.

Specifically, it is estimated that the consumption of the drug flakka can raise body temperature beyond 38 degrees, and in some cases may require medical intervention imminently.


Arrhythmias are heart rate and rhythm disturbances in which the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly.

Current data suggests that the main effects of the drug flakka are usually an increase in heart rate (tachycardia). However, in some cases other types of arrhythmias have also been connoted.

myocardial ischemia

Flakka drug use can lead to ischemic heart disease in which there is an imbalance between oxygen supply and cardiac demand.

This alteration occurs due to an obstruction of the arterial supply to the heart muscle and apart from being able to cause multiple heart damage, it can also cause death.

Sudden death

Finally, the high cardiovascular alteration produced by the consumption of the drug flakka can immediately produce sudden death.

This condition has not been connoted in all cases but it can appear through a single consumption. Thus, the drug flakka is considered to be a highly toxic and potentially deadly substance.

-Psychological effects

The psychological effects of the flakka drug are those that produce gratifying sensations and therefore those that motivate its recreational consumption. Being a synthetic stimulant drug, its main effects on the brain are characterized by experiencing energizing, euphoric and highly gratifying sensations.

Likewise, the drug flakka can cause serious and unpleasant psychological effects, as well as cause significant behavioral changes. The main psychological effects that have been described are:

feelings of euphoria

The main effect caused by the consumption of the flakka drug translates into elevated feelings of euphoria and pleasure.

These effects could be similar to those of other stimulant drugs such as cocaine and would entail a notable addictive potential of the substance.

Increased alertness

On the other hand, the hyperstimulation caused by the substance causes an increase in the alertness of the individual. The senses are sharpened and cognitive processes are accelerated after consumption.

sexual arousal

One of the most consistent data that has been collected indicates that the consumption of the drug flakka has an important aphrodisiac effect and its consumption increases arousal and sexual desire.

increased energy

Likewise, this substance causes a notable increase in energy, eliminates feelings of tiredness and leads to a state of generalized hyper-arousal.

increased activity

Due to the previous effect, people who consume this substance experience a high increase in their activity. This fact is reflected in their behavior, which is usually hyperactive, agitated and impulsive.

Panic attacks

Not all the psychological effects produced by the drug flakka are rewarding for the user. In fact, unpleasant effects have been described in several cases, the most prevalent beingpanic attacks.


Likewise, among the negative effects of flakka drug use is the development of a psychotic episode. This substance can induce delusions and hallucinations with relative ease, especially when large amounts are ingested.

extreme aggressiveness

Another of the most particular effects of the drug flakka and that has motivated a greater interest in this substance is that its consumption usually causes states of agitation andaggressiveness. Likewise, cases have been described in which the substance has caused extreme aggressiveness.


The drug flakka contains alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP) as its main active ingredient. This substance is a synthetic cation that is derived from pyrovalerone. Information on alpha-PVP in the scientific literature is very limited, so much of its mechanism of action remains unknown.

Synthetic cations are generally known to be beta-ketone amphetamine compounds which are derived from the cation. These substances are commonly found in bath salts and fertilizers forfloors.

However, studies that have investigated the toxicity of cations in humans are very scarce. Therefore, most of the knowledge that is possessed today about these substances comes from clinical cases or personal testimonies.

As far as alpha-PVP is concerned, several in vitro studies show that this substance acts as a potent blocker of transporters ofdopamineand norepinephrine. Thus, alpha-PVP has a pharmacological profile similar to that of another pyrovaleronic cation known as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

These alpha-PVP blocking mechanisms explain the marked stimulant effects caused by the consumption of the drug flakka. When the drug enters the brain, it blocks the transporters ofdopamine andnorepinephrine, which increases the presence of these substances, a fact that motivates cerebral hyperstimulation.

addictive potential

As with the rest of the characteristics, there is currently no scientific evidence to determine the addictive potential of the drug flakka. However, two factors about theirqualities They suggest that the addiction that the consumption of this substance can generate could be very high.

First of all, as with other stimulant drugs, the drug flakka acts directly on dopamine, increasing its presence in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter closely related to feelings of gratification and on which all addictive drugs act.

On the other hand, the effects caused by the consumption of the flakka drug disappear after a short time, a fact that motivates many consumers to feel like consuming it again impulsively.

In this way, in the absence of corroborated and contrasted data, it is currently thought that the addictive potential of the drug flakka could become very high.


  1. Aarde S, Creehan K, Vandewater S, Dickerson T, Taffe M. (2015). In vivo potency and efficacy of the novel cathinone α-pyrrolidinopentiophenone and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone: self-administration and locomotor stimulation in male rats..
  2. Dawson P, Moffatt JD. Cardiovascular toxicity of novel psychoactive drugs: lessons from the past. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012; 39: 244-52.
  3. from Cal L. Watch out for the flakka! El Mundo [electronic format] 2015; 1(1).
  4. Karila L, Megarbane B, Cottencin O, Lejoyeux M. Synthetic Cathinones: A New Public Health Problem. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015; 13:12-20.
  5. Sellors K, Jones A, Chan B. Death due to intravenous use of α-pyrrolidinopentiophenone. Med J Aust. 2014; 17; 201: 601-3.

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