'This is a crisis': Authorities say 1 death confirmed from synthetic drug outbreak

AUSTIN - "This is a crisis," the Austin Police Department said Thursday in regard to the recent synthetic drug outbreak in Downtown Austin in recent weeks. One death has been confirmed, authorities said.

And starting Thursday, officers are going to start patrolling the ARCH homeless center where dealers of the drug, commonly known as "K2" or "spice," are primarily targeting the homeless population. However, it's not just a homeless problem.

 

 

Officers will not target users of the drug, but instead, focus on getting dealers off the streets. 

"I think it is actually the most addictive thing I have been on," one K2 user told KVUE.

Thursday morning, five overdoses of the drug had been reported, according to APD.

The following afternoon, several patients were reported in Downtown Austin, according to Austin-Travis County EMS. Medics even performed CPR on one patient.

Wednesday, there were multiple other incidents while on Tuesday, ATCEMS said 20 patients were taken to hospitals for the synthetic drug. Last week, EMS responded to 34 incidents.

Austin-Travis County EMS released this map detailing the number of synthetic drug calls they received in 2016: 

ATCEMS 2016 K2 Patient Contacts by kvuenews on Scribd

Although the synthetic drug is often called "synthetic marijuana," the drug is instead a cocktail of different kinds of chemicals that cause a variety of symptoms, authorities said.

"When I'm high, it's a feeling like no other," another user said. "It's more potent than weed. It gives us the same high as weed, but also has a heroin effect to it."

ATCEMS said during the press conference Thursday that the synthetic drug patients are putting some strain on local hospitals.

KVUE streamed the press conference on its Facebook page. Watch here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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