The Purpose of this report is to underline what makes Flakka so popular and dangerous by comparing its effects with similar drugs.
Alpha - Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (A- PVP) commonly known as Flakka, is an illegal synthetic stimulant. It is primarily found in Europe and the United States. The drug is commonly used by teenagers looking for a rush, but the effects of the drug are violent and extremely dangerous causing chaos to both the user and the community around them. This drug can have dire and long lasting physical and psychological damages on the human body, in some cases death.

This article will underline the basics of what Alpha-PVP is, what it does to the human body coupled with its effects on the brain and also the impact it has on the general population and community. Where the drug originated and where the drug is reaching across the world. The price of the drug and the long term repercussions of long term use. The article will also show some insight on how the media has influenced the spreading of this drug and the rumors circulating it.


Flakka is a synthetic stimulant. A synthetic drug is described as being something that is made artificially and not found in nature. Flakka is a form of synthetic cathinone otherwise known as a “Bath Salt”, cathinones are found in the leaves of a plant called the Khat. The Khat shrub is grown in regions like Southern Arabia and East Africa, the leaves of the plant are chewed to create a euphoric buzz. This plant's leaves are later processed in labs where they are developed and worked on in order to extract the cathinones and enrich them until it becomes a stronger version referred to as a synthetic cathinone. However when the plant is synthesised the effects of it become more potent and also more dangerous.
 A-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Flakka/A-PVP) has a chemical structure of C15H21NO.

When a person uses A-PVP by either injecting, snorting, ingesting or smoking it, it affects the dopamine levels in the user's brain causing a heightened sense of euphoria much like the natural Khat plant. However the effects of the drug are not just that of feeling good, it can also increase one's temperature to upwards of 40c, heat stroke, kidney damage, brain damage, heart failure and even death become a risk when the body gets to 39 - 41c. The drug can also put its users into a severe delirium or state of paranoia. 

On August 15th 2015, a video surfaced where a man in the U.S under the effects of Flakka believed he was being shot at. There have been multiple users who have stated that they have had a feeling of being followed and/or attacked. Another side effect is when users have a seemingly increased amount of strength and physical endurance. In some cases police have shot aggressive people who were under the influence of A-PVP and they have had shown no signs of pain, distress or stopping. Users can also have tendencies of sporadic and aggressive actions. When all of these effects come into play the results are just short of nightmares, people under the influence of this drug have been reported to be acting like zombies, which is how the drug got its title “the zombie drug”. With people taking more than 5 bullets to go down, acting in a violent frenzy, screaming and in few cases cannibalism, it is clear how the drug got its title. 

Long-term use causes tolerance so a stronger dose is needed. Physical effects of increased usage over an extended period of time include : high heart rate, high blood pressure and hyperthermia (high body heat), seizures and death. Psychological effects include panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and violent outbursts. Flakka is primarily found in the United States, Asia, Europe and it is becoming increasingly popular in Australia. The U.S Drug Enforcement Administration has estimated an increase in flakka related incidents by 780% over the past 3 years. The reason for this drug's rapid success and popularity lies in its cheap price. In America 1kg of Flakka is estimated at being $1,500 whereas 1 kg of Cocaine is valued at $300,000, even though flakka has identical effects to cocaine the price difference is incredible. Flakka has also been shown to have similar effects to LSD, PCP, Speed and Ecstasy, but even though it is so similar the price still remains so much lower than the other related drugs. The cheap price of A-PVP is where it gets another name, “the $5 insanity drug”. The drug on the street is usually sold for $3-5 a hit (3-5mg). Flakka is usually sold in batches of 500 mg. Even though the doses are very low the effects are drastic as stated before and because the batches are so large compared to the doses the chance of overdosing is extremely high. When a user first starts taking Flakka they can get a high from just the smallest amount (1 mg), but over an elongated time of using flakka the amount needed for it to have an effect increases, as the dose requirements increase so does the risk of health issues and withdrawal.


When flakka is taken by either being ingested, injected, smoked or snorted. Its effects are almost immediate, the start of its effects comes in the form of increased dopamine levels in the brain, giving the user an extreme sense of euphoria (Intense feelings of happiness). But it also grants the user with severe delirium, heightened strength and an increased level of aggressive tendencies. When looking into the effects on the brain the information becomes a bit fuzzy, because Flakka has only recently surfaced, therefore there is little known about its alterations on the brain. A reason for the lack of information can be directed to the forbidden/ostracised procedures of human testing, the reasons we do not test the effects of Flakka on human subjects is because it would break ethical codes. The majority of information on A-PVPs long term effects are also mostly all anecdotal, so nothing can really be scientifically gathered from the user's statements. However, although there is little known about what the drug actually does to the brain to cause these effects, we can draw conclusions as to why these symptoms take place by using information gathered from similar drugs with almost identical properties. Drugs under the category of Hallucinogens and stimulants, such as ;  LSD, Cocaine, PCP, Ecstasy and Speed.   

When looking at Cocaine's effect on dopamine levels in brain. What we know about it is that it prevents the recycling of the dopamine by turning off the neuron receptors, causing a build up in the brain leading to a heightened sense of Euphoria. By looking into the similarities cocaine shares with A-PVP we can deduct that flakka must be in someway preventing/blocking the synapse from sending/receiving dopamine through the neurons creating a substantial buildup of dopamine, which stays in the brain allowing that constant feeling of pleasure until the drug wears off. The reason drugs become so addictive is because of this effect of constantly feeling euphoric. 

Flakka can also put the user into an extreme state of delirium/hallucination. In the case of a similar drug; LSD. When LSD it absorbed into the body it releases a mimic of a chemical in the brain called Serotonin, serotonin is a ‘feel good’ chemical, it is also responsible for smooth muscle movement, maintaining mood balance and transmitting signals through nerves. When a brain is under the effect of LSD it becomes overrun with all these signals of feeling good, leading to a muddled/confused sense of reality because the brain is overloaded with these great feelings. People who have been under the effects of flakka have reported to have been confused and delusional much like those who had taken LSD. 

LSD's effects could be closely relatable to that of Flakkas. Perhaps when flakka is absorbed into the body it cuts off neurotransmitters in the brain that inform the body of pain, process visual and auditory sense/information and the ability to think rationally/clearly. This could be because of the overloaded sensors in brain due to the drastic and sudden influx of these mimic serotonin chemicals that clutter the synapse/neurotransmitters. As a result of these effects, the potential results could be that of what is shown on the media. I.e. people acting like crazed zombies and not feeling pain or having restraint.


Flakka is a drug that has only recently surfaced and there is little known about what it truly does to the human brain when taken. Where it originated is known but where it will reach in the future still is left unanswered. The information we have at this time can provide us with enough evidence to show that this drug is a very increasingly popular and deadly one. However the effects that it has on the brain and the body are frightening and extremely detrimental to the user and those around them, that is made very clear by the horrific incidents reported throughout the years. Although there has not yet been any rock hard evidence of what Alpha- PVP does do to the brain and its pathways, we can and have drawn minor conclusions as to what could potentially be happening by relating the effects of flakka with similar drugs under the same category. Flakka when absorbed into the body could be potentially producing similar chemicals as LSD (ones that mimic serotonin) causing the brain to overload and become unrefined in its actions and signals. With Cocaine being similar we can determine that flakka could also be preventing the passage/transference of dopamine by blocking the neuron pathways, ultimately resulting in the drugs effect of immense euphoria. There is little known about this drug but science will prevail in finding out more about its effects in the future just like it has done with the many drugs before it.