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The devil's chemistry

The naked man, reportedly high on flakka, is violently thrashing around his home, flipping over furniture, banging into walls, yelling and avoiding all attempts by police to subdue him.

He is in a state of “excited delirium” with symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, high body temperature and hallucinations. He clearly needs medical assistance.

But it is too late; the man dies of an overdose. An investigation into the death, which occurred in Illinois, notes that were it not for a video capturing the mayhem, the death would have been suspicious. Such is the state of damage the drug-crazed man had caused.

Flakka is a type of synthetic drug that is top in a growing list of synthetic drugs that are causing sleepless nights for police in countries where the trend has caught on.

The fact that these drugs are made in laboratories means that they are easy to modify. Their effects, though, remain devastating.

“It’s worse than heroin, meth, all that. The reaction, the best way I can describe it is, is that you’re dealing with a bunch of zombies, they’re just completely out of their mind,” one investigating officer notes.

These are some of the new chemical drugs that are giving law enforcement sleepless nights.


Street name: Gravel, Magic.

Commonly known as “Flakka”, according to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, and is mainly produced in China, where other synthetic drugs are coming from, and then distributed by dealers on the ground for around $3 (Sh316) to $5 (Sh527) a dose. Unlike synthetic marijuana, flakka takes the form of crystals that can be snorted, injected, vaporised or eaten.

Side effects: Paranoia, violent episodes, fidgeting, sweating profusely among others.

Bath Salts

Street name: Blue magic, lady bubbles, mystic, Mr Nice Guy, Scarface, Vanilla Sky, White Girls and Wicked XX. Originally intended to be put in bath water, the drug has become the latest craze around the world. It is a hallucinogen that causes serious paranoid delusions and has strong withdrawal symptoms. It is found at convenience stores making it easily accessible to addicts.

It is snorted, smoked, inhaled and injected.

Side effects: Psychoactive effects, chest pains, extreme paranoia, delusions and increased heart rates.

Crack Cocaine

Street name: 24-7, Bedrock, Beat, Candy, Cloud, Cookies, Crumbs, Devil Drug, Dice, Hardball, Ice Cube and Nuggets.

The drug resembles rock salt and can be inhaled, smoked or heated. It goes through a process of freebasing whereby it is heated and inhaled through pipes.

Side effects: Dangerous elevated blood pressure, risk of seizure, cardiac arrest, long trauma, paranoia respiratory disorders, and aggressiveness.


Street name: Clarity, Hug, Lover’s Speed, Beans and love drug.

Popularly idolised by celebrities in their music videos. Commonly known as a party favour, it has an active ingredient, MDMA, which was originally developed as a medication to treat depression. It also contains a mixture of lab-created chemicals.

Side effects: Rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, blood vessel constriction, sweating profusely and panic attacks. Long term effects include psychosis and seizures.

Crystal Meth

Street name: Chalk, Ice, Tina, Go, Whizz, Dope, Biker Coffee, Shabu and Fire.

It is a white odourless bitter-tasting crystalline powder. The drug is taken orally, smoked, snorted, injected or dissolved in water or alcohol.

Crystal meth contains methamphetamine that can be used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and therefore, has a high potential for abuse.

Side effects: Intense euphoria, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, violent behaviour, psychosis, paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations.


Street name: Loony Toons, Window Pane, Yellow Sunshine, Golden Dragon, Purple Heart, Hippie, Heavenly Blue and Magic.

The drug is produced in crystal form in illegal laboratories. It is a colourless, odourless substance sold on the street in form of small tablets or capsules.

Side effects: paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations.

Psilocybin/Magic Mushrooms

Street name: Caps and Shrooms.

Nicknamed “Shrooms”, the drug resembles dried mushrooms. It can be eaten, brewed and consumed as tea. The drug is common among young people and causes hallucinations.

Side effects: Nausea, nervousness, paranoia and anxiety.

-Additional information: vice.com

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