Alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone, also known as a-PVP or "flakka," is a synthetic stimulant drug developed in the 1960s. Also called "gravel," this drug has become increasingly popular among street users for its methamphetamine-like effect, though flakka is often much more intense and, as a result, dangerous. That's why Pittsburgh flakka treatment centers are dedicated to combating the rise of flakka abuse.
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Flakka was not banned in the United States until 2014 as it was neither popular nor common until that point, and has never had a history of use as a medicinal drug. A-PVP was developed as a possible alternative to other cathinone class drugs used in psycho-pharmacology. It was never studied further once its properties were ascertained, however, but would occasionally surface as a recreational drug because it produces an "excited delirium." It wasn't until much later that flakka was associated as being a significant contributor to suicide and overdose deaths in drug combinations.
Most commonly, a-PVP is sold in "bath salts," which is where its name "gravel" comes from. In its mixed form with these other drugs, it resembles small chunks of road gravel. It is most often manufactured in the Near or Far East and imported in pure form, then subsequently mixed with other substances such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine as a "cut" substance to lower the other, more expensive drugs' cost on the street. Flakka is also often sold as an alternative to meth or cocaine and began its rise in popularity only recently because of that.
The most common adverse effects of gravel include hyper stimulation with paranoia and hallucinations. These effects, when mixed with drugs that are very physically active (such as cocaine, heroin, or meth) can have dire consequences. Flakka has also been associated with deaths from heart failure.
As the effects and popularity of a-PVP increased, so did the negative associations it had. This lead to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declaring it a controlled substance via the Drug Enforcement Agency. Flakka had already been listed by several states as such. The a-PVP compound is also illegal in several other countries including New South Wales and China.