What looks like harmless bath salt crystals could be the new designer drug as more and more national and state cases pop up of extreme behavior due to the consumption of “bath salts.”
The designer drug made national headlines after a man in Miami, Fla., who was reportedly under its influence, was fatally wounded by police as he had been chewing off another man’s face. It was later determined, via an autopsy, Rudy Eugene was not on the drug.
Other reported cases of bizarre behavior due to ingesting the drug have popped up including one of Robert William White in Glendale.
According to the Los Angeles Times, White was arrested Thursday, June 21, after hitting an elderly woman atop her head with a shovel. At the time he told police that he had been drinking a cocktail of soda and “bath salts.”
The drug can be sold over the counter and is available in smoke shops or head shops and convenience stores under a panoply of names including “Ivory Wave”, “White Lightning”, and “Vanilla Sky.” It consists of a potpourri of constantly changing chemicals, three of which — mephedrone, MDPV and methylone — were banned last year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Once made it is sold in packets labeled “Not for Human Consumption” which allows them to skirt the Food and Drug Administration Regulations. The drug is sold in 50 milligram packets and costs $25 and up. It can be smoked, snorted or injected into the blood stream.
Calls to several local head shops, including Smoker’s Paradise, and Chief Eagle Head Smoke Shack, were made and all representatives said that they do not sell the product.
However, one local store, did sell them until recently. A representative who would not give his name stated that they used to sell the product, but they gave it up as they found out that “it was no good.”
According to Brian Wilson, the interim director of Emergency Services at Sierra View District Hospital, there have not been any local cases of people coming to SVDH under the influence of the drug. After taking his position at the hospital he taught a class to his employees regarding “bath salts.”
The side effects are vast.
“It can cause hyperthermia. There’s been cases where the patients temperatures have been as high as 105 and 106 degrees,” said Wilson.
Other side effects include hallucinations, extreme paranoia, severe agitation, rapid heart rate, suicidal thoughts, harm to others, and even death.
“If a person has a heart condition and they take it, they could have a heart attack,” said Wilson.
As a result of the newness of the drug, according to Wilson, no known general cure is available and as such each person has to be treated on a case-by-case basis. Usually it is diagnosed by a process of elimination.
Like SVDH, local law enforcement has not encountered the drug but they know it’s readily available and extremely dangerous.
“It is not a controlled substance and kids have access to it,” Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman said. “It cooks them inside and makes them delirious. With that kind of potency we in law enforcement are very concerned.”
So far, according to Sgt. Chris Douglass, the Public Information Officer for the Tulare County
Sheriff’s Department, they have not seen or confiscated this type of drug, and they encourage parents, schools, and others to be aware of drug abuse. According to Douglass the affected person should be taken to the Emergency Room.
According to Dr. Richard Geller the medical director of the California Poison Control System at Children’s Hospital Central California, Madera, the first call for bath salts came in October 2010.
As of Jan. 1, 2011 the poison control center has been keeping track of the bath salt cases, and since then there have been a reported 278 exposure calls with two of those being fatal.
According to Dr. Geller, 94 percent of the 278 cases have needed medical attention.
Dr. Geller gives three reasons for people not to do it.
“The drugs cause bizarre suicide. It causes acute psychological breakdowns, as patients lose their mind. Finally, people under the influence often have encounters with police that end very badly,” said Geller.
For more information on bath salts, visit www.drugabuse.gov.
THE PORTERVILLE RECORDER