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Gravel Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 1, 2019

Gravel is another name for Flakka, a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Not only is this drug highly addictive, but it also carries a high risk of overdose and even death. It is important to seek help for an addiction to this drug before it is too late.

Gravel, also known as flakka, is a synthetic substance containing alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), with similar effects and at a quarter the price of crystal meth. Sales of the drug have skyrocketed in the past few years. Deaths linked to gravel are also on the rise, with more than 126 fatalities reported in the state of Florida in the past year. Completely unregulated, reports of anything from straight ammonia nitrate to rat poison to derivatives of methamphetamines, like cathinone, have been sold under the name gravel.

Gravel gets its name from its rock-like appearance, although addiction professionals refer to it as a fast and furious route to “rock bottom.” Laboratory tests have revealed the mechanism of both the high addiction risk and some really bizarre behaviors relating to use of the drug.

How Gravel Affects The Brain And Body

Recent laboratory testing of the compound alpha-PVP found in the drug revealed the substance blocked reuptake of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine completely. When the uptake of these neurotransmitters are blocked completely, the result is extreme energy and euphoria, making the drug intensely addictive after only a few exposures.

With norepinephrine and dopamine raging within the body, pain perception is also greatly diminished and blood flow to muscles increased, creating a major challenge for law enforcement attempting to assist or arrest someone on the drug. Law enforcement report behaviors related to extreme paranoia likely resulting from the rush of adrenaline from the blocked norepinephrine uptake. People have been found in trees, atop buildings wielding firearms in the nude, and even rolling around on the grass along roadsides.

The effects on the body are equally dramatic and troubling. Gravel’s unnatural increase of adrenaline in the body means extreme cardiovascular effects including increased heart rate and blood pressure, vasodilation, and increased breathing rate to meet the demand for oxygen. That alone would have limited effects, although it can certainly increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, people addicted to gravel take the drug regularly. And though the drug is too new for long-term adverse health effects to have been studied, the physical appearance suggests an amplified effect similar to methamphetamines and cocaine.

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This is due in part to the physical demand of the drug on the body and also the side effects. Someone taking gravel is likely to have a significantly reduced appetite and may suffer from severe insomnia. Both symptoms can lead to a decrease in immune function, making these individuals susceptible to illness. It only takes a few days of use before the physical tolls of the drug begin to appear.

Gravel is most often derived from a synthetic stimulant compound called cathinone, used also in the making of bath salts. Cathinone has been known to cause rapid muscle deterioration. The muscle fibers are released into the bloodstream, where the protein can put added pressure on the liver and renal system leading to liver and kidney failure.

Gravel And Psychological Trauma

In addition to the physical damage caused by gravel, those who abuse gravel suffer from tremendous paranoia, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, and perpetuated use of the drug can lead to anxiety and major depressive episodes.

Often the first line in detection of use of the drug gravel is behavior, described as anything from bizarre to disturbing. Gravel engages aspects of our fight or flight response and can cut off communication from one region of the brain to another region of the brain, altering the user’s perception of reality significantly. Without response to any specific threat, the brain frantically searches for a perceived threat, manifesting as extreme paranoia. There’s no shortage of stories linked to the drug. One man was recently found running down a freeway and later explained to police that the cars were hunting him. The drug is derived from the same compound found in the man accused of killing his neighbor’s pygmy goat and was found half naked standing over the dead animal, wearing women’s underwear.

While paranoia is most often to occur, cases of extreme agitation have also been reported, and with the nearly super-human strength resulting from the physiological response to gravel, consequences can prove dire. One Florida attempted to murder an 86-year-old woman while using gravel because he was certain she was going to kill him. The woman suffered multiple broken bones and abrasions, but survived the attack.

Dangers of Gravel Addiction:

  • Extreme paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme insomnia
  • Delirium
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart failure
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Sudden Death

The Best Rehab Centers For Gravel Addiction

Gravel is highly addictive because it blocks the re uptake of dopamine, the neurotransmitter related to the brain’s reward center. With so much dopamine available, the body links use of gravel with basic survival and will generate extreme cravings for the drug, if use is not continued.

While gravel is quickly metabolized in a matter of hours, the extreme cravings can prove problematic for those seeking recovery from the drug. Depression and anxiety are common withdrawal symptoms, as are suicidal thoughts or actions, severe fatigue, extreme irritability, and insomnia.

Gravel addiction requires a comprehensive treatment plan. The best rehab centers to treat gravel addiction will include management of emerging co-occurring mental and physical disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with alternative therapies as well as pharmacological therapies may also be utilized, where warranted.

Don’t Wait; Get Help For Gravel Addiction Now

Gravel abuse can quickly lead to extreme physiological deterioration, psychological trauma, and severe unintended consequences. Don’t wait to get help. will connect you with the online resources, professional support, and evidence-based comprehensive treatment you need and deserve. Contact us today and get the help you need to break from the cycle of addiction. Take back control and discover a new and rewarding life in recovery beginning today.

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