A potentially deadly drug that causes terrifying hallucinations is infiltrating Australian music festivals and nightclubs.
People are being warned about Monkey Dust, a synthetic drug being passed off to unknowing victims as ecstasy, causing them to go into serious psychosis.
A hit of the drug costs about the same as a beer and users have been filmed running into traffic, mutilating themselves, teetering on rooftops and jumping from buildings.
One woman who took the drug even licked a dance floor so furiously she made her tongue bleed, The Herald Sun reports.
The scary rise of the drug comes after an epidemic in the UK, where the violent side effects have caused dozens of fatalities.
A police officer in the UK told Sky News dealing with somebody who had taken Monkey Dust was like “dealing with someone who thinks they are the Incredible Hulk”.
‘They feel like Superman’
Toxicologist Andrew Leibie told 7 News some who took the drug literally thought they could fly.
“When they take this drug they feel like Superman,” he said.
The drug has been linked to two deaths in South Australia in 2012, but authorities had thought it had since disappeared from Australia.
The synthetic drug, also known as MDPV or bath salts, can be swallowed, injected or snorted.
According to the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation, the drug was designed to have the same effect as drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and LSD.
The organisation said it only took 15 to 45 minutes for the drug to take hold after being ingested and it could last for up to four hours.
Users who take a high dose can suffer from paranoia, anxiety, convulsions and even death.
Curtin University Professor Nicole Lee told 3AW radio paranoia and psychosis caused by the drug were similar to methamphetamine or ice.
“It’s not a drug we know heaps about,” she said.
In December, 2017 two men were charged after Australian Federal Police intercepted more than four kilograms of the drug.
The drugs were discovered at the International Mail Facility in Sydney after anomalies were noted through x-ray examination.
Controversial pill testing debate continues
The latest resurgence of the drug follows the controversial debate about whether pill testing should be introduced to Australian festivals.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers entered the pill testing debate saying pill testers could be charged if a person dies from a drug that had been given the OK by a tester.
But Civil Liberties Council vice president Terry O’Gorman said on Monday that was not the way pill testing operated.
“Pill testers don’t give the all clear,” he said.
They advise on the make-up of any pill and advise festival goers that it is not a good idea to ingest any, Mr O’Gorman said.
Pill testers who operated at interstate music festivals last year did not give the OK to any pill that was presented for testing, he said.
“There have been instances where festival-goers binned pills after testing and this shows that testing has some practical on the ground value,” he said.
Mr Leavers believes that pill testing will lead to more young Australians losing their lives.
“If pills are tested, people will think it is OK to take drugs and clearly it’s not,” he said in a statement.
“No quantity of these drugs is safe to consume and we should not give people a false sense of security.”