Hallucinations, seizures, aggression: 'Flakka' hits the Gold Coast

By Andrew Koubaridis

Flakka can cause severe hallucinations and aggressive behaviour. Photo / Fox4
Flakka can cause severe hallucinations and aggressive behaviour. Photo / Fox4

It was 24 hours of chaos and confusion. And for those believed to be in the grip of danger drug Flakka it must have been terrifying.

A staggering 16 people needed hospitalisation after overdosing on the so called "zombie" drug.

The first call for help came early Saturday morning. First responders on the Gold Coast are used to seeing the after effects of too much booze and drugs - but this was different.

At least one senior paramedic has said the weekend overdoses were the worst he had ever seen.

The first calls came from Surfers Paradise and Mermaid Waters early on Saturday morning.

At Surfers, police were called to the Islander hotel when three men, believed to be footballers from Victoria, began behaving strangely.

They were hallucinating and jumping on furniture. Police were needed to help protect paramedics in one case as the patient became too erratic to be treated, reported The Courier Mail.

But that was just the beginning.

In Mermaid Waters, another man was hallucinating. By the time emergency services got there others needed help too. They were swimming in a canal; another run frantically away, seemingly terrified.

One man stopped breathing before he got to hospital.

Police were shocked by the "extreme" actions of the drug-affected people and warned of the dangers of illegal drugs.

"This is certainly extreme behaviour," Gold Coast police district duty officer Senior Sergeant Bruce Pearce said. "I'm sure it was a very scary situation for those people.

"We just want to get the message out there that these are dangerous drugs. You don't know what's in them ... so don't take them."

By early Sunday morning the number of patients had doubled. A staggering 16 people in total needed hospitalisation after overdosing on the drug, thought to be "zombie" drug Flakka.

The second batch of patients were a mixture of young people, of both genders. They mainly fell ill at bars and clubs, although one incident happened at a property at Labrador.

At least one was having a seizure. Another was caught running straight into oncoming traffic at Surfers Paradise. Others had to be tackled to the ground.

Flakka is a synthetic hallucinogen that is new to Australia but has already caused havoc in the US, where it is referred to as the "zombie" drug or "gravel".

It increases alertness, attention and energy by combining the effects of methamphetamine and LSD.

But it can cause severe hallucinations and aggressive behaviour. In the US, there have been cases of users becoming psychotic and even begin to eat their own flesh. Others get violent.

Of the 16 people hospitalised, two are in a serious condition with one being placed in an induced coma.

Flakka can cause severe hallucinations and aggressive behaviour. Photo / AP
Flakka can cause severe hallucinations and aggressive behaviour. Photo / AP

Toxicology tests have yet to confirm if the drug was Flakka, but all showed the severe hallucinations associated with the drug.

It's possible people took the drug thinking it was MDMA.

The issue has so alarmed Gold Coast authorities that all police working at the GC600 V8 racing event this weekend will be given a full briefing on how to cope with people affected by Flakka.

Major Events Gold Coast inspector Des Hearn told The Gold Coast Bulletin: "Certainly I'll be getting our intelligence section to research the symptoms and signs and include this in our briefings for GC600, 100 per cent.

"This will include educating officers on how to deal with people who are showing signs of being on this zombie drug. We'll tell them what they need to do in the event that people are overdosing and will be prepared if it becomes an issue."

Of greater concern is the influx of 25,000 teenagers party for two weeks for Schoolies next month.

"We are concerned, we have the V8s coming up and people will be here with their families so we want to get the message out there about the risks of these dangerous drugs," senior operations supervisor of the Queensland Ambulance Service Stephen Burns told the Bulletin.

It was the worst he had ever seen it on the Gold Coast.

"In the last 24 hours it was the largest cohort of similar drug overdose incidents I've seen in my 24 years working on the Gold Coast."

- news.com.au

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