Flakka & Bath Salts: The Zombie Drugs Taking FL By Storm | Ambrosia Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center
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Flakka & Bath Salts

Bath salts are synthetic substances that contain a variety of chemicals and are often sold over the counter by gas stations and head shops, as well as on the street.

Recently, designer drugs like bath salts and flakka have been appearing on the streets. Earning their name from one of the various products they are disguised as, bath salts are a particularly dangerous “upper”. These are not your grandmother’s Epsom salts. Flakka, while chemically different from bath salts, is from the same family of designer drugs. Most common in the Southern United States, Flakka has spread to other regions as well. It is known for being extremely inexpensive and potent, making it a real threat to communities across the United States of America.

Designer drugs such as flakka and bath salts are often seen in news headlines, associated with bizarre behaviors. Recently, a Miami man ran out of his house, ripped his clothes off, and screamed violently while fighting off police officers. It was later revealed that he was high on flakka. Florida was the nation’s clear leader in flakka-related arrests in 2014 and 2015, but the drug has spread throughout the rest of the nation as well.

Appears in stores as
Sometimes sold on the street as
Common ingredients
Methods of Use
Appears in stores as
Bath Salts, Computer Cleaner, Plant Food, Jewelry Cleaner
Sometimes sold on the street as
Flakka, Molly, MDMA, Cocaine, Gravel
Common ingredients
Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), Mephedrone, alpha-PVP, Other Cathinones
Methods of Use
Snorted, Injected, Smoked, Orally

What to look for...

Bath salts and flakka typically appear as a white, crystalline powder, but can sometimes be found as larger chunks or crystals. Bath salts sold in stores are often packaged in a way that real hygiene products would not be, featuring questionable imagery and homemade labeling. Ironically, some of the products are labeled "not intended for human consumption".

Someone abusing these drugs may exhibit the following symptoms
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations & excited delirium
  • Increased sociability & lowered inhibitions
  • Increase sex drive
  • Panic attacks
  • Headache
  • Tense muscles
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Teeth grinding

While the "high" typically lasts two to four hours, the physical effects can last much longer. Depending on how the addict uses the drug, other signs may exist. Injections can leave scarring on the arms, hands of feet, while snorting bath salts can lead to a runny or bloody nose.

Bath Salts Flakka Facts

Withdrawal symptoms can include...

    • Anxiety
    • Sleep problems
    • Depression
    • Impaired cognitive function
The severity of these symptoms varies depending on the following factors.
  • Length of use
  • Method of use
  • Previous psychological conditions
  • Genetic factors

Safe detox from regular use of bath salts is critical, not only for comfort but to medically stabilize the addict’s body to prevent physical consequences. Treatment at an inpatient substance abuse facility is usually recommended to ensure long-term recovery.

Long-Term Effects

Since bath salts, flakka, and other designer drugs have just recently become more popular, long-term effects are still difficult to measure. There is, however, some research on how these drugs interact with the brain and metabolize in the body. Studies show long-term effects of synthetic cathinones can occur long after the desired effects wear off. These include but are not limited to…

  • Psychosis
  • Intense Hallucinations
  • Aggression
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Attacks
  • Liver failure

Bath salts and flakka are similar to cocaine and amphetamines in that they increase the level of dopamine in the user’s brain. Dopamine is a chemical associated with the brain’s reward system, and increases are responsible for the “up” feeling that users are trying to achieve with these designer drugs. After long-term use, dopamine levels in the brain become off-balance, which is when users are most vulnerable to becoming addicted.

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Ambrosia Treatment Center
Stephanie N.
Treatment Center
Drugs totally took control of my life, and left me alone and scared. I thought because I was not buying them in a store and on the street that they were somehow safer. After getting arrested, I learned the hard way how dangerous these drugs I was putting in my body actually were. It is scary to think where my life was going before getting sober.
June 15
5 5
Ambrosia Treatment Center
Sharon T.
Treatment Center
People usually don't believe it when I tell them I used to do bath salts. My addiction was truly horrifying. I began hearing voices in my head telling me to commit suicide, and I was convinced there was no hope for me. More drugs were the only thing that quieted the voices, and I felt scared and alone. Thanks to my counselor, I can look in the mirror and smile again. I feel like I am back to my old self!
October 26
5 5
Ambrosia Treatment Center
Dean P.
Treatment Center
I began using flakka because I was dating a girl who was using it. Pretty soon the euphoria was nowhere to be found and I was just smoking it to maintain. This stuff can literally destroy your mind and cause you to lose all control, which is why you see people on the news hallucinating and getting very aggressive. It was finally in treatment that I learned I was the problem, not the drug.
June 20
5 5
Ambrosia Treatment Center
Brandon H.
Treatment Center
I was using bath salts daily for two years. It was by far the best and worst high I've ever felt. After relapsing on flakka and experiencing intense paranoia and hallucinations, I decided it was time to get help. I can now say I go to sleep every night feeling like a success.
November 1
5 5

Bath Salts and Flakka FAQ

How long have bath salts been around?

Mephedrone, one of the main ingredients in bath salts and flakka, was synthesized as far back as the late 1920’s. However, it was not until the 2000’s that designer chemicals became popular for abuse.

What is a designer drug?

A designer drug is a synthetic variation of an already illegal drug, Due to slight chemical changes, manufacturers are able to stay one step ahead of legislation and law enforcement. This legal gray area is what allows substances like bath salts to be sold in stores and damage the lives of young adults.

Where do bath salts come from?

Until recently, chemicals such as MDPV and alpha-PVP could be purchased online legally through Chinese vendors and shipped directly to your doorstep. Laboratories overseas are mostly responsible for the production of bath salts, although China has recently banned the manufacturing of these substances.

Are flakka and bath salts natural?

No. Designer drugs like flakka and bath salts are chemically based on naturally occurring Cathinones, but they are entirely synthetic and made in laboratories. Cathinones are derived from the khat plant, which is native to the Middle East and parts of Africa.

Why is flakka so powerful?

Alpha-PVP (flakka) is created in a laboratory and is entirely synthetic.  That means it is designed to be as potent as possible. Uppers like cocaine are naturally derived, which makes them less potent and more expensive to the consumer, while synthetics cost significantly less.

Why is flakka so dangerous?

Flakka increases the body’s internal temperature and heart rate, which can wreak havoc on the user’s internal organs. Reports state that kidney damage and even kidney failure have occurred. Those who are prone to medical conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, or aneurysms are even more at risk.

Are bath salts/flakka addictive?

Due to the similarities between synthetic stimulants and drugs like cocaine and amphetamines, Bath Salts have a high potential for abuse and can be addictive.

Are bath salts and flakka the same drug?

While bath salts and flakka are both designer drugs in the family of synthetic cathinones, chemically they are different. They do , however, produce similar effects and are equally as dangerous.

Are bath salts illegal?

Yes. As of July 2012 the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act banned the distribution and possession of chemicals commonly found in bath salts. However, the products are still sold illegally, oftentimes through online vendors.

Is it possible to overdose on bath salts?

Yes. Just like other amphetamines, bath salts can lead to an overdose. Symptoms of an overdose include profuse sweating, increased heart rate, vomiting, and labored breathing. As with any substance, potential for overdose increases when combined with other substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs.


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