Officials: 'Bath salts' are growing drug problem

Jan 23, 2011 By SHELIA BYRD , Associated Press
In this Jan. 18, 2011 photo, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson holds a packet of what is being sold as bath salts at his office in Fulton, Miss. The product, which can be legally purchased, contain stimulants which authorities claim can cause hallucinations, paranoia and suicidal thoughts and are now among the newest substances law enforcement agents are having to deal with in the streets. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP) -- When Neil Brown got high on dangerous chemicals sold as bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Wave, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky.

Some say the effects of the powders are as powerful as abusing . Increasingly, law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the advertised bath salts with complex chemical names are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale.

From the Deep South to California, emergency calls are being reported over-exposure to the stimulants the powders often contain: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.

Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, the chemicals can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and , authorities say. The chemicals are in products sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet as bath salts and even plant foods. However, they aren't necessarily being used for the purposes on the label.

Mississippi lawmakers this week began considering a proposal to ban the sale of the powders, and a similar step is being sought in Kentucky. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

In Brown's case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying that he wrote one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the advertised bath salts.

"I couldn't tell you why I did it," Brown said, pointing to his scars. "The psychological effects are still there."

While Brown survived, sheriff's authorities in one Mississippi county say they believe one woman overdosed on the powders there. In southern Louisiana, the family of a 21-year-old man says he cut his throat and ended his life with a gunshot. Authorities are investigating whether a man charged with capital murder in the December death of a Tippah County, Miss., sheriff's deputy was under the influence of the bath salts.

The stimulants aren't regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, but are facing federal scrutiny. Law officers say some of the substances are being shipped from Europe, but origins are still unclear.

Gary Boggs, an executive assistant at the DEA, said there's a lengthy process to restrict these types of designer chemicals, including reviewing the abuse data. But it's a process that can take years.

Dr. Mark Ryan, director of Louisiana's poison control center, said he thinks state bans on the chemicals can be effective. He said calls about the chemicals have dropped sharply since Louisiana banned their sale in January.

Ryan said cathinone, the parent substance of the drugs, comes from a plant grown in Africa and is regulated. He said MDPV and mephedrone are made in a lab, and they aren't regulated because they're not marketed for human consumption. The stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain, he said.

"It causes intense cravings for it. They'll binge on it three or four days before they show up in an ER. Even though it's a horrible trip, they want to do it again and again," Ryan said.

Ryan said at least 25 states have received calls about exposure, including Nevada and California. He said Louisiana leads with the greatest number of cases at 165, or 48 percent of the U.S. total, followed by Florida with at least 38 calls to its poison center.

Dr. Rick Gellar, medical director for the California Poison Control System, said the first call about the substances came in Oct. 5, and a handful of calls have followed since. But he warned: "The only way this won't become a problem in California is if federal regulatory agencies get ahead of the curve. This is a brand new thing." In the Midwest, the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center received at least 12 calls in the first two weeks of January about teenagers and young adults abusing such chemicals, said Julie Weber, the center's director. The center received eight calls about the powders all of last year.

Dr. Richard Sanders, a general practitioner working in Covington, La., said his son, Dickie, snorted some of the chemicals and endured three days of intermittent delirium. Dickie Sanders missed major arteries when he cut his throat. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

"If you could see the contortions on his face. It just made him crazy," said Sanders. He added that the coroner's office confirmed the chemicals were detected in his son's blood and urine.

Sanders warns the substances are far more dangerous than some of their brand names imply.

"I think everybody is taking this extremely lightly. As much as we outlawed it in Louisiana, all these kids cross over to Mississippi and buy whatever they want," he said.

A small packet of the chemicals typically costs as little as $20.

In northern Mississippi's Itawamba County, Sheriff Chris Dickinson said his office has handled about 30 encounters with users of the advertised bath salts in the past two months alone. He said the problem grew last year in his rural area after a Mississippi law began restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine.

Dickinson said most of the bath salt users there have been meth addicts and can be dangerous when using them.

"We had a deputy injured a week ago. They were fighting with a guy who thought they were two devils. That's what makes this drug so dangerous," he said.

But Dickinson said the chemicals are legal for now, leaving him no choice but to slap users with a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Kentucky state lawmaker John Tilley said he's moving to block the drug's sale there, preparing a bill for consideration when his legislature convenes shortly. Angry that the powders can be bought legally, he said: "If my 12-year-old can go in a store and buy it, that concerns me."

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User comments : 32

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rgwalther
3 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2011
"Most of the bath salts users had been meth addicts..."
"In Brown's case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the advertised bath salts."

It would seem that these 'suicidal and /or homicidal' bath salts users may have a few other problems besides their soap choices.

One thing is certain, criminal defense lawyers now have a new defense strategy. Civil product liability lawyers now also have a great story to tell Louisiana jurors. In some states, especially southern states, a class action, product liability suit is considered by jurors the same as a winning lottery ticket.

Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2011
In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.


I live in Louisiana and have family members in the medical field. A few weeks before the state ban, they were getting flooded with cases of people messed up by this stuff. The druggies tend to go straight to the emergency room around here, so there's probably a lot more cases of related emergencies than the poison control center knows about.

Apparently it's supposed to be snorted, but in at least one case a guy seems to have injected it, and it shriveled his veins in his arm. It's hard to know exactly what happened though, because a lot of these people tend to be on more than one drug at a time.

They did a special announcement a few weeks ago in which they warned everyone to stay away from it, and then the state went ahead and just banned it completely.
Bog_Mire
5 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2011
analogues and simply new research chemicals are making our drug laws a very slippery slope.
Terrible_Bohr
4.8 / 5 (4) Jan 23, 2011
It just goes to show that no matter what you ban / legislate / control, people will find a way to alter their body chemistry and damage themselves and others.

So how many items can they fit behind the counter at Walgreens, anyway?

ormondotvos
3 / 5 (2) Jan 23, 2011
This is what you get when you combine individualism with total personal freedom. It's why we jail such a high percentage of our population. They are given freedom without discrimination. They don't know what to do with freedom, so they re-invent the wheel, and insist on making every mistake ever made before.

Mere cautions don't work, because we've been lying to them about other less harmful drugs, and we refuse to teach them the techniques of thinking that will allow them to clearly see the dangers.

We start by lying to them about how things work, how morality is derived from human nature, and we teach them, even here, that opinion is a substitute for factual knowledge and expertise. So they think their own opinion, however ill-formed, is the end of the search for knowledge.

Thanks, Fox News.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2011
Thanks, Fox News.


Fox News?

You've got to be joking.

Isn't it "liberals" who insist on shooting themselves up with everything imaginable, and have the "Try anything one time" attitude?
freethinking
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 23, 2011
QC watch your dangerous talk, no talk about shooting. The correct non violent leftist speak would be to inject, woops, cant say that either... how do we tell people without using violent speak? :)
flicktheswitch
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2011
I'm surprised no-one in the States has sued Fox News for their misleading use of the word "News".
Moebius
4 / 5 (4) Jan 23, 2011
So what happens if you take a bath with this stuff?
geokstr
1 / 5 (2) Jan 23, 2011
pparently it's supposed to be snorted, but in at least one case a guy seems to have injected it, and it shriveled his veins in his arm. It's hard to know exactly what happened though, because a lot of these people tend to be on more than one drug at a time.

It's called "thinning the herd", just another prime example of evolution working at its finest.
insignificant_fish
5 / 5 (4) Jan 24, 2011
So what happens if you take a bath with this stuff?

anyone know?

this is pathetic. when I was a kid we had real drugs sold by the CIA under Bush... those were the days.
YawningDog
not rated yet Jan 24, 2011
Let's not forget "I'm not a Crook" Nixon and the Garden of Earthly Delights he and his crew brought us. All you had to do was give a few rabid political speeches and you'd be "neutralized" with primo govt. drugs...Sandoz acid, heroin from the Golden Triangle, Coke & pot from South of the border, Hell's Angels crank... those were the halcyon dayz my friend.

We had far too much class to stoop so low as to buy some crap from a gas station sold as "bath salts". If we got that desperate we'd dry some banana peels and smoke them. We had class baby!
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2011
It's called "thinning the herd", just another prime example of evolution working at its finest.
Then how does the common misanthropist explain the early deaths of Mozart, Schubert, Pascal, and other geniuses?
trekgeek1
4.5 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2011


Fox News?

You've got to be joking.

Isn't it "liberals" who insist on shooting themselves up with everything imaginable, and have the "Try anything one time" attitude?


So the scary liberals who want the government to regulate everything are also the hippies who want the government to stay out everything so they can take drugs? I would think conservative policies would lend more easily to drug experimentation since they advocate reduced regulation (Selling drugs at stores) and personal freedoms. Wouldn't increased government regulation inhibit the access to drugs? I don't think you can reconcile your contrary prejudices against the left.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011
In response to the article, I think there is only one solution. We must make drugs legal and regulate them like alcohol. Minimum age, banning certain activities while on them,etc. The cost of medical treatment should not be covered by insurance, but should be paid by the user at their own expense. This will include mandatory psychological counseling. Multiple offenses by those who have not paid for their previous treatments must unfortunately be left to die. Sorry, but if you insist on self destruction, we cannot drag society down with you, especially when you've been given multiple chances and actively choose to pursue these avenues. I hate to say it, but It's the only way.
kevinrtrs
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 24, 2011
@freethinking -
QC watch your dangerous talk, no talk about shooting.
So who decides what's violent speak or not? Who makes the rules? YOU?

@trekgeek1
only one solution. We must make drugs legal and regulate them like alcohol.
Unfortunately people who are going to abuse themselves don't care about laws and regulations. They simply go ahead and do the dastardly deeds anyway - as witnessed by the number of celebrities doing drugs and just otherwise "normal" people driving under the influence of alcohol - all in contravention of the law.

As someone already pointed out - if you believe in evolution why on earth would you want to stop these people from harming themselves. Why not allow them to reduce the amount of competition for food and other resources?
The only reason you'd want to appeal to love and compassion is on biblical and Godly grounds. Such do not exist in the evolutionary paradigm.

ChiRaven
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011
So let me get this straight. We're having this big hairy debate over an issue where we have a total of UNDER 350 total reported cases nationwide so far?

If this stuff is still being manufactured, certainly the people who are seriously abusing it cannot constitute a significant portion of its total market. Depending on 350 customers?

Stop being panicked by shadows and cries of "wolf", and wait until a piece of the sky really hits YOU or the person standing next to you on the head. THEN you can conclude with some certainty that yes, the sky really IS falling. Until then, please keep your statist nose out of everyone else's business.
Terrible_Bohr
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011
As someone already pointed out - if you believe in evolution why on earth would you want to stop these people from harming themselves. Why not allow them to reduce the amount of competition for food and other resources?

Laws concerning alcohol aren't for the safety of the drinker; they're there for consideration of rest of the public. There are no laws about drinking yourself to cirrhosis in the privacy of your own home. Those people could take themselves out of the gene pool without endangering others.

The only reason you'd want to appeal to love and compassion is on biblical and Godly grounds. Such do not exist in the evolutionary paradigm.

Love and compassion are two emotions we all feel, and they're based on chemicals in our brains. No need to drop the "g word" here.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011

As someone already pointed out - if you believe in evolution why on earth would you want to stop these people from harming themselves. Why not allow them to reduce the amount of competition for food and other resources?
The only reason you'd want to appeal to love and compassion is on biblical and Godly grounds. Such do not exist in the evolutionary paradigm.



Except compassion and empathy are part of evolution. That is why I said "unfortunately" in my comment. Godly love? Yeah, commanded genocide is very loving, just like believing people will burn in hell forever. I'd bet my bottom dollar that more killing has been done with a smile by the religious than the secular. Religion is the only way I can see somebody enjoying the destruction of a life because they are doing their lords bidding.
Bog_Mire
not rated yet Jan 25, 2011
If you are purely looking at cost/benefit then surely the most economical approach is to rehabilitate drug addicts?
frajo
5 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2011
Religion is the only way I can see somebody enjoying the destruction of a life because they are doing their lords bidding.
Of course, a non-religious killer can't be doing his lords bidding. But does this make his deeds less evil?
freethinking
2 / 5 (4) Jan 27, 2011
kevinrtrs - relax, my point was satire, poking fun at progressives...

As for drugs, if you are 18, and you are stupid enough to take them, my attitude is that it is your life to destroy.
geokstr
1 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2011
It's called "thinning the herd", just another prime example of evolution working at its finest.
Then how does the common misanthropist explain the early deaths of Mozart, Schubert, Pascal, and other geniuses?

WTF?

I'll speak more slowly for the common comprehension-impaired: it is better that individual members of a species who do insane things like shooting bath salts to get a buzz self-thin themselves from the herd so that they don't leave any progeny to muck up the gene pool for the rest of the species.

Although there is sometimes a fine line between genius and insanity, last I heard, Mozart, et al, didn't die young because they willfully and deliberately did insane things to themselves for no rational reason other than a high.
geokstr
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 27, 2011
I'd bet my bottom dollar that more killing has been done with a smile by the religious than the secular...

I'll take that bet.

I'll ante up 100 million starved, executed, and worked to death in Siberian gulags, not in war, but of their own citizens, for resisting the ideology of secularists like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, etc.

Your bid...

(What's that you say? You thought those were all good guys, just fighting the racist imperialist capitalist-roader AmeriKanskies, didn't you? You must have read Howard Zinn's version of history in school. You probably even loved "Reds".)
rgwalther
5 / 5 (2) Jan 27, 2011
"for resisting the ideology of secularists like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, etc. "
*****************************************
These monsters were not anti-religious. They were ultimately religious. They all thought, or at least acted, as if they were gods, not just 'speaking for a god' like clerics of traditional religions. The belief and control systems set up and ruthlessly enforced by these so-called 'godless atheists' were exactly the same as the institutionalized, brutal, madness created by 'religions' against which 'Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, etc' claimed to revolt.
freethinking
2 / 5 (4) Jan 27, 2011
I'd bet my bottom dollar that more killing has been done with a smile by the religious than the secular...

The truth is progressives killed over a hundred million in the last 100 years. The top three progressives killers

Hitler 60 million
Stalin 20 million
Mao killed 15 million.

To the Progressive elite, people and the truth are to be disposed of.
geokstr
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 27, 2011
I'd bet my bottom dollar that more killing has been done with a smile by the religious than the secular...

The truth is progressives killed over a hundred million in the last 100 years. The top three progressives killers

Hitler 60 million
Stalin 20 million
Mao killed 15 million.

To the Progressive elite, people and the truth are to be disposed of.

You've heavily understated the killing by Stalin (25-30 million) and especially Mao (60-70 million).
geokstr
1 / 5 (3) Jan 27, 2011
"for resisting the ideology of secularists like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, etc. "
*****************************************
These monsters were not anti-religious.

What are you talking about? They were all atheists, as are all the variants of Marxists, and all open worship was not tolerated.

Now there are many of us who believe that atheism is just another belief system not that different from religion, with all the same trappings except a supernatural God. All their devils and rewards and sins and gods are right here on earth.

Even some media pundits called Obama a "sort of a god" and people fainted when he was speaking (if we assume those were not staged), others had their leg tingling. Bush and Palin and Cheney are the satans, but since this is a secular religion without an immutable deity, those may change over time.

Nearly every modern "ism" is a secular religion, from environmentalism to feminism to Marxism.
freethinking
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 28, 2011
geokstr I agree with you on all counts including that my numbers are incorrectly low. I need to appologize to the Progressives and their Ahtiest heros for under stating Progressive Athiest accomplishments.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Jan 29, 2011
The Dear Leader isn't that far from The Lord.
The problem is unquestionable authority, like your nebulous "god".
zslewis91
1 / 5 (3) Jan 29, 2011
@FREETHINKING, fuch your god and hero's fuck your mothers brothers sons and daughters, fuck them all in there asses, i shit on your god, christ or whatever...i the progressive athiest lunatic. i shit on you sir, you and your bible. shit right in the middle and then smash the pages shut. why... because i feel like it...and my lack of faith also means i can do whatever i want. I the Progressive Athiest shits on your mothers face. with pride.. and joy..smile laugh love
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Jan 29, 2011
Now that's overboard.