Florida Student Austin Harouff Face Biting Attack: Did Drugs Influence his Behavior?

On Monday evening of August 15th, Austin Harrouff stormed out of his family dinner at Duffys, walked nearly four miles north, and brutally murdered Tequesta residents John and Michelle Mischon Stevens in their garage. When police arrived, Harrouff was on top of Stevens, biting and removing pieces of the victim’s flesh from his face. It took four officers, a taser, and a K-9 unit to eventually overpower the deranged teen, who they claimed to be abnormally strong. Due to the animalistic behavior exhibited by Harrouff, he was immediately tested for drugs upon arriving at a West Palm Beach hospital. Although the initial drug tests came back negative for common street substances such as methamphetamines, marijuana, and cocaine, further toxicology reports were conducted to test for the synthetic substances that have been taking over south Florida by storm. Bath salts or flakka may have influenced Harrouff’s deadly decision. Both drugs have been known to cause episodes of severe psychotic and violent behavior.

On May 26th, 2012 a similar event occurred in Miami, Florida where a man Rudy Eugene attacked and “ate” a mans face while supposedly under the influence of Flakka. The 19 year old Florida State Student involved in Monday’s deadly attacks will face multiple murder charges once released from the hospital. He is said to be in critical, but stable condition. His latest toxicology reports will yield results within the next two weeks.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that in 2012, they received 2,691 calls related to the abuse of cathinones such as flakka. The drug flakka is relatively new in the United States, although it is not a new type of drug. The substance belongs to a group of drugs that are known as synthetic cathinones or “bath salts”. These substances are highly addictive and cause extreme bodily harm if consumed in large enough doses to cause an overdose.

What makes flakka dangerous?

The group that this drug falls into, known as synthetic cathinones, are said to be as powerful as methamphetamines and pose a higher risk of causing addiction and negative side effects. The drug is relatively cheap per dosage resulting in its widespread abuse across America, more frequently in the poorer areas where people are looking to get a cheap “fix” to improve their mood.  The psychoactive effects of this drug include stimulation and an intense euphoric feeling. The negative side effects of this drug when abused may include:

  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Body temperature fluctuations
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Delusional thoughts
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Heart palpitations

People who abuse this substance in large doses potentially endanger themselves and those around them. Treatment for abuse of this substance should be sought immediately to avoid the potential for emergencies such as overdosing.

 What kinds of treatments are available?

There are many treatment options available that people who are abusing this substance can complete to help them recover. Treatment programs such as those found at inpatient and outpatient treatment centers are effective at professionally aiding recovering addicts. The treatment programs typically include cognitive-behavioral therapy that is aimed at helping patients to adjust their behavior and the way they perceive their addiction so that they are able to abstain from abusing drugs and can continue to live a successful and independent lifestyle.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.