Health officials from across the country are sounding an alarm over potentially dangerous hallucinogens that being sold as “bath salts”.
In just the first few weeks of 2011, poison control centers in the United States received 373 calls regarding bath salt side effects, according to a press release (pdf) by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. That is in comparison to 234 calls regarding bath salts throughout all of last year.
The reported problems with bath salts have come from at least 25 different states and involve packets of bath salts being sold at rest stops, convenience stores and on the internet that use a number of potent chemicals that may work as hallucinogens and amphetamines.
On February 1, White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske issued a warning about the products, saying they posed a serious threat to health and well-being of users. A bill has been drafted by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York that would add the main active ingredients, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), and mephedrone to the list of federally controlled substances.
The bath salts, which sell for about $20, are unregulated and are currently legal in most states. They are sold under names like “Cloud Nine,” “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky” and are sometimes sold as plant food. Although they are marked “not for human consumption” health officials say there is a growing trend of the bath salts being injected, crushed and snorted like cocaine or put into beverages.
Officials say abusers of the bath salts may be in for a rude surprise. Not only can they kill with just one dose, but some officials said the psychotic side effects of the bath salts incorporate some of the worst side effects of drugs like LSD, Ecstasy, PCP, cocaine and meth.
In one case, a bath salt user planned to surgically remove their own liver with a mechanical pencil. In another incident, a man who was experiencing hallucinations from bath salt side effects barricaded himself in his attic with his rifle in preparation of an assault by monsters, which he vowed to kill before they could get him.
One Louisiana man reportedly tried to slit his throat with a butter knife while high on “Cloud Nine” bath salts. When that failed, he continued to suffer psychotic episodes for three days before he finally shot himself in the head with a rifle while his parents slept.
Louisiana is the state that has reportedly been hardest hit by what some poison control experts are calling a growing epidemic. However, reports of incidents have been spreading since the first reports there last year. Some states, including Louisiana, Florida and Kentucky, are moving to ban the bath salts, but health officials say that doctors and lawmakers in most states have never heard of the problem and are unprepared.
Currently, the bath salts are being sold under the names Red Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, White Lightning, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie and possibly others.