Flakka Is Similar to Bath Salts and More Addictive Than Meth, Says Study

By May Wilkerson 05/13/15

The little-known drug has been tied to a number of "bizarre" incidents across the nation.

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Flakka, the latest mystery drug to incite panic in the news, could be extremely addictive, a new study finds.

Until now, little was known about the drug, which police in Florida recently linked to a series of “bizarre” incidents, including an armed, naked man yelling "I feel delusional, and I'm hallucinating" from on top of his roof as well as several attempted break-ins at police precincts. It is even rumored to cause feats of “superhuman” strength.

The synthetic stimulant is chemically similar to bath salts, the drug blamed for the infamous face-eating incident of 2012, which later turned out to be caused by someone merely smoking pot.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute say that flakka, technically called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PDP), could be as addictive as MDPV, the primary chemical found in bath salts, and more addictive than meth.

"There have been assertions that flakka is somehow worse than MDPV, but this study shows that the two are very similar," said Michael A. Taffe, an associate professor at Scripps.

To test the drug’s addictive potential, scientists set up a lab experiment in which rats could choose to inject MDPV or flakka by pushing on a lever. They found that both drugs elicited a similar level of desire in the animals, causing them to push the lever at a greater frequency.

“Our data show that flakka is as potent as MDPV, making it a very good stimulant, arguably with worse addiction liability than methamphetamine," said study co-author Tobin Dickerson.

Flakka reportedly comes from China, India, and Pakistan, where it is manufactured in labs. In an attempt to skirt drug laws, the substance was designed with a slightly different chemical makeup from MDPV, which was banned in the U.S. in 2011.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.