'Flakka' drug craze fuels naked mayhem, warn police
Police have warned about the effects of a new synthetic drug which makes people feel "superhuman" and has led to a series of bizarre incidents in Florida.
The effects of flakka include extreme hallucinations, rage, delirium, paranoia, and a sharp rise in body temperature which leads users to take off their clothes.
One naked man tried to kick in the door of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department because he thought a mob was trying to kill him.
Another naked man, experiencing similar hallucinations, tried to climb the police station fence and became impaled on a spike, police said. He was taken to hospital and survived.
Other cases police have encountered recently included a naked man who ran through a neighbourhood convinced he was Thor, and then tried to have sex with a tree.
Another ran through a busy street in broad daylight with no clothes on after becoming convinced a pack of German shepherd dogs was chasing him.
This week a flakka user, Qushanna Doby (20), was charged with child neglect after her one-year-old baby was found abandoned in the street.
The woman said she blacked out after taking the drug and couldn't remember where she left her baby.
Flakka, which derives its name from the Spanish word for a thin, pretty woman, is also known as "gravel" and use is spreading quickly, mostly in Florida, because it costs only $5 (€4.40).
Police in Florida said it first emerged there in 2013 and they have seized hundreds of finds of the drug so far this year.
The active ingredient is alpha-PVP and it is chemically similar to 'bath salts', another synthetic drug which became popular with users in recent years.
Flakka is mostly made in China and Pakistan and smuggled to the US in small quantities through the post.
It is usually sold in crystal form and can be smoked using odourless electronic cigarettes.
It can also be injected or swallowed.
Don Maines, a drug treatment expert in Fort Lauderdale, said: "I've had one addict describe it as $5 insanity. They still want to try it because it's so cheap. They feel stronger and more sensitive to touch. But then the paranoia sets in.
"It actually starts to rewire the brain chemistry. They have no control over their thoughts. It seems to be universal that they think someone is chasing them. It's just a dangerous, dangerous drug." (© Daily Telegraph, London)