The disturbing murder of a couple in Florida is just the latest case linked to flakka to make headlines recently—but what is flakka? Also known as Alpha-PVP or "gravel," the drug looks like tiny white or pink stones—like those you might find at the bottom of a fish tank, reports Hollywood Life—and is similar to amphetamines and bath salts, running $3 to $5 per dose. If snorted, injected, eaten, or smoked, the drug can boost body temperature and cause a heart attack, kidney damage, or kidney failure. But that's nothing compared to what it does to your brain.
The drug throws dopamine and serotonin—the neurotransmitters that regulate mood—out of whack, leading to hallucinations, hyperstimulation, aggression, and paranoia. The paranoia can last for months, though the high from flakka lasts only a few hours, reports Fox 25. Cannibalism and increased strength have also been reported in several cases; police say Austin Harrouff was found chewing on the face of one of his alleged murder victims on Monday, and it took a stun gun, a police dog, and several officers to detain him. Click for the more on the drug here. (Read more Flakka stories.)