Louisville Metro Police say a cheap synthetic drug is turning us - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Metro Police say a cheap synthetic drug is turning users into 'zombies'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a drug so powerful, police say it's turning users into zombies.

It's called spice, or K2, and it has caused a disturbing scene to play out across Louisville, over and over.

It's a constant strain on the police officers who have to deal with it.

"You all right? Yeah. What's going on," asked Sgt. Gary Kistner, with LMPD's 1st. Division.

On a weekday morning, Sgt. Kistner was talking to a suspected spice user. You can tell the user is completely out of it. 

"You couldn't smell any alcohol and he had a glaze over his eyes and he was slurring and just unsteady," Sgt. Kistner explained. 

Sgt. Kistner says the man had been smoking something pretty powerful and it has become a growing public safety issue.

We followed Kistner around that day and it wasn't long before the next call.

"He's falling over in the middle of the street and he has hit his head," a radio dispatcher told Sgt. Kistner.

"They did say that he was just standing right here and just literally fell straight back," said Officer Amanda Frederick, with LMPD's First Division.

On this run, we found a man lying on West Market Street. 

"He started out on the north side of the street and just walked right out into traffic, almost got hit by a car and then was just standing right here on the side and just literally fell straight back," Officer Frederick said.

It is a scene Officer Frederick knows all too well.

"One day, not too long ago, it was a Saturday, we made 13 spice runs just in the west end, in the first division," she said.

Spice is a man-made drug, laced with different chemicals. It's often sold in places like gas stations and smoke shops under different names -- a legal-ish way to catch a buzz. But the end result is often disturbing.

One of the results was seen in police video obtained by WDRB News. It showed just how ugly the drug can get. Officers found a man screaming on the floor at a gas station. At another location, a suspected spice user tried to run, but he didn't get very far.

Meanwhile, back on West Market, EMTs barely got the man in the ambulance before the next call.

"They do look like zombies," Sgt. Kistner said.

As another one was loaded into an ambulance, he looked like he has something to say, but nothing came out.

"They can't talk, it's like they're paralyzed," said Sgt. Kistner.

Tyler Hoback has been there. He is now in a 12 step recovery program at the Healing Place. That's after a spice high dropped him flat on his face.

"I would wake up sometimes and just not know where I was at," said Hoback. "I lost everybody that was close to me, I lost my family, I couldn't keep a job, I couldn't stay -- I couldn't got to sleep and I couldn't eat without it."

Priscilla McIntosh, president and CEO of the Morton Center, said the so-called fake drug can be deadly.

"Taking just one hit off of that can lead to heart attacks, it can lead to psychosis. It can also lead to suicidal thoughts," McIntosh said.

Side effects scary enough to prompt Tyler Hoback to get help.

"I have hope that I can stay away from the stuff, especially seeing all of the people on the streets now and just realizing that that was me," said Hoback.

Two big hurdles? The drug is cheap and easy to get.

Officer Frederick said there are also a lot of repeat offenders. 

"So, 8 o'clock in the morning, we take somebody to the hospital and before my shift is over, they're out of the hospital smoking spice and overdosed on spice again," Frederick said.

Addicts don't get arrested.

"We cite them usually because it's a misdemeanor to have spice or to sell spice," Sgt. Kistner explained.

So there's not much officers can do to stop the disturbing scenes from playing out across Louisville over and over again.

Several local gas stations have stopped carrying spice, but police said it is still easy for users to get their hands on.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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