Its effects can be as potent as crystal meth, bath salts or cocaine. It causes people to act erratically, uncontrollably and dangerously. It's called flakka, and it's the new designer drug hitting the streets of Florida.
In recent weeks in Florida, this new drug has led to a man trying to break down the door to a police station, a man impaling himself while trying to scale a fence, and an armed and naked man shouting about hallucinations from a rooftop, CBS reports.
The health effects of taking flakka, which can be injected, snorted, smoked or swallowed, can be dire.
"We're starting to see a rash of cases of a syndrome referred to as excited delirium," Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova Southeastern University, told CBS. "This is where the body goes into hyperthermia, generally a temperature of 105 degrees. The individual becomes psychotic, they often rip off their clothes and run out into the street violently and have an adrenaline-like strength and police are called and it takes four or five officers to restrain them. Then once they are restrained, if they don't receive immediate medical attention they can die."
Flakka is usually made from the chemical alpha-PVP, a synthetic version of the stimulant cathinone, the same class of chemical used to make bath salts, a drug that rose to national prominence in 2012 during a high-profile case of one man chewing another's face while supposedly high on the drug (it later turned out that he wasn't).
"On a scale of one to 10, Flakka is a 12," Lt. Dan Zsido of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office told 10 News Tampa Bay Sarasota. "It comes from a place where we don't know how it's being made, who's making it, and what's been added to it before it reaches the end user so it's very dangerous."