What Is Flakka, And Why Did It Turn An FSU Student Into A Cannibalistic Killer?

“What is flakka?”

That’s one of the top questions being asked around the internet days after a bizarre murder story emerged from Jupiter, Florida. As reported by People, local police arrived at the scene of a grisly murder late Monday evening. Once there, authorities found an FSU teen biting the face off of one of the deceased victims in their driveway.

Austin Harrouff, a 19-year-old Florida State University student, was found “grunting and growling as he removed the victim’s flesh with his teeth” of 59-year-old John Stevens. Both Stevens and his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The couple had been fatally stabbed to death, and Harrouff is the lone suspect in their murders.

It wasn’t merely the fatal stabbing of a middle-aged Florida couple that locals found disturbing. It was the idea that Austin was happened upon in a state of cannibalism. The story of someone literally ripping the flesh from his victim seems too horrific to be real, more suited to a zombie television series than real life.

In the aftermath of the Florida double slaying, it’s emerged that Austin Harrouff was thought to be high on “flakka” at the time of the murder. This revelation has since raised a variety of questions: What is flakka and where does it come from? How are FSU college students getting their hands it? And lastly, can it turn someone into a face-eating killer?

The Inquisitr first discussed the dangerous nature of Flakka in November 2015. According to writer Amy Feinstein,

“The stimulant in flakka is alpha-PVP, which was banned and labeled a schedule I drug by the DEA in 2014. Schedule I indicates a high incidence of abuse and addiction. Versions of the drug are changed up to keep a step ahead of lawmakers. The crystals are fast-acting and can be swallowed, snorted, or injected.”

Flakka, People reports, originated in China before being pushed into Europe and the United Kingdom. Eventually, the designer drug made its way to the United States. There’s even thought to be a flakka-related epidemic in Florida at the moment.

As for what flakka does to the body, the drug causes paranoia and states of “excited delirium,” during which a user seems to gain almost super human strength. In the case of Austin Harrouff, Hollywood Life reports that local police were physically unable to remove the FSU teen from the body of his male victim. Authorities were forced to use stun guns and a K-9 unit to get the suspect under control.

To know more about flakka and what it can do to the body and mind, there are some very insightful YouTube videos available:

Now that one has an idea as to what flakka is and the harm flakka can cause the body, there is one final, disturbing question: Can flakka make a cannibalistic killer out of you?

Despite the often justifiable concern surrounding flakka and a similar designer drug known as “bath salts,” these substances typically do not lead to cannibalism. There are multiple instances where abuse of flakka and bath salts resulted in highly violent acts. But as Popular Science notes,

“The face-eating has happened in isolated incidents. It’s uncommon. There’s no specific reason for it other than drug psychosis.”

In other words, although drugs like flakka increase the likelihood of violent behaviors, flakka itself does not explicitly cause a user to become cannibalistic. As was the case with bath salts, flakka abuse will likely not usher in a zombie apocalypse.

In any case, flakka’s growing presence among American college and high school teens is cause for concern. The case of FSU student Austin Harrouff and victims John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon will stand as a grim reminder of how flakka — and all drug abuse — can destroy lives.

The tragedy should encourage parents to talk to their children about the horrific consequences of substance abuse and addiction. If you need more information about drug abuse and treatment, please contact the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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