Some tabloid newspapers call it the “zombie drug” – but what is behind sensationalist media reports? Bojan Arsenijevic explores the mysterious AlphaPVP in his article.
“Yes, gravel…what a great name. A new drug! Worst drug I’ve seen in years! Most dangerous drug ever!” (USA, 2014)
“Gravel is the new drug…it’s like the new ‘crack’…it’s like ‘crack’ for my generation.” (USA, 2014)
“Taking a hit of a-pvp gives me most powerful 9 rush that can only be described as mental orgasm”. (Serbia, 2018.)
“There is no job, no friends.. nothing or no one is more important while I am in possession of the stuff.” (Serbia, 2018.)
“High, I will spend all my time smoking, until it runs out, then eventually, I will commit myself to a sexual pleasure (which is insanely pleasurable under the influence).” (Serbia, 2018.)
“Along as the usual stimulant wearing down (x3), the downside is complete mental slavery to it and everlasting wish to possess it all the time”, (Serbia, 2018.)
At the time of collecting these quotes, we were able to view YouTube clips, showing people running around naked and paranoid. Videos were often titled and described as “Flakka – insanity drug” & “disturbing…”. The media reported on a new, potent substance, cheap and extremely addictive. They called it a “zombie drug”, that would turn you into cannibals, along with other sensationalist euphemisms, designed to support the government’s “education” of potential new users. However, what was interesting for me was the paranoid fear in the eyes of these people, as well as the obsession with which they talked about the substance. But, like most of the video clips and news about these kind of substances and sensational titles, this one was also slowly forgotten.
The first time I came across AlphaPVP in Serbia was in 2016, in a story of a friend – a passionate fan of hallucinogens. He was saying that he had purchased a few grams of a new, cheap stimulant with a much stronger effect than crystal meth. Apparently, our friend tried the drug and didn’t stop smoking it until the “last crystal”. He told me about the paranoia and the problems that came out of all this, and that he had been dreaming about it ever since. He was buying the substance online until the Chinese Government put it on the prohibited list.
“You remember, you saw the video-clips, in America they call it Flakka,” his roommate shook his head and keep on repeating: “Bro you wouldn’t believe what he looked like in the past few days…”
I tried AlphaPVP for the first time in mid-2017. I managed to obtain a proper hit from our friend, the protagonist of this story. I had not even exhaled the first smoke, and the familiar euphoria rush flooded my body. It was pretty clear to me why someone would repeat it, though it was far from something I would dream of at night.
A couple of months later, we had the opportunity to test the amount of the substance, sufficient for several days. Unlike my friend, from time to time I would have slept, and the psychological consequences were far smoother than what he experienced, as he did not sleep at all. Since then, we have repeated the sessions several times with AlphaPVP or some of its analogues and each time ended with various paranoid episodes. As much as we prepared in advance, simple lack of sleeping in combination with the substance was a safe recipe for paranoia.
Based on all the experiences, I’ve been thinking a lot on the subject, visualising the dangerous depths of the eyes of the people who we had the chance to speak with regarding their relationship with AlphaPVP. I had several ideas, each crazier than the next. I could not articulate them at first… but finally, a month ago, our hero said in a conversation (talking about the amounts of AlphaPVP), “Well, what is a gram, there is hardly a short psychotic episode there …”
In response to my reaction – “I knew you were chasing it, but I couldn’t believe You’re torturing yourself…” – he showed me messages and comments on forums, and indeed the majority of people that were using it were chasing the “paranoid dragon.”
Even though it was patented 50 years ago as alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenon, we did not hear of it until 2013, when it showed up in the US as a substance known, initially, as gravel, later known as flakka, or alfaPVP. It hit the market after MDPV was placed on the list of illegal substances, as its approximate analogue. In only a year it became the substance of choice for most users who did not have cash for crystal meth, and even among those who did, because it is, according to users’ stories, more intense and longer-lasting than methamphetamine, and more affordable. Comments on various forums from then to the present day clearly speak of its addictive potential.
A few days ago the acquaintance returned from Sochi, and after greetings, when I said I still work and advocate for harm reduction, he asked me where to get alphaPVP and do we have it here.
In Russia, unable to cope with problems related to the use of heroin, the use of pirullidins, which the authorities know very little about, is becoming an epidemic.
We live in the world of global connection influenced by the internet, and many production labs existing in the Far East ready to respond with hyper production of new, legal, and totally unknown psychoactive substances, whenever governments ban already existing ones. The war on these drugs is totally ineffective.
How long it will take before this epidemic spreads through Europe? The worst thing of all is that alpha PVP has long been out of sales, but dozens of analogs are in circulation, whose consequences cannot be predicted. And it’s not a problem with people who are purchasing it on the Dark Net, because they are more than informed about the dangers and risks. The problem will arise when the next drug in a sequence is more adept and cheaper than the “old ones”. Then they will reach the most vulnerable people, who will not know the consequences, the addictive potential, and the dragon will take them through the paradise city.
Bojan Arsenijević, NGO Re Generation