New designer drug evokes images of zombie mayhem
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:07
A new drug has entered into the mainstream of America that is causing high profile criminal cases around the United States. The new drug, called bath salts, jumped into the spotlight following an incident in Miami earlier this month.
Sold legally in smoking paraphernalia shops, called “head shops,” this new drug is marketed under names such as “Vanilla Sky,” “Ivory Wave,” and “Blue Silk.” The drug is being hyped as the new LSD, but medical officials are describing it as closer to phencyclidine (PCP), a drug that can cause paranoia, delusions, and extreme aggravation and negative physical effects to the user.
Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora D. Volkow, M.D. commented that, “The information we do have is worrisome and warrants a proactive stance to understand and minimize any potential dangers to the health of the public.”
Bath salts have managed to skirt the law through a series of loopholes and a lack of regulation on the chemicals that comprise them. A tactic that many of the makers of bath salts use to utilize these loopholes is labeling their product ”unsafe and not for human consumption.”
Even though law enforcement officials and departments across the country know that the clear objective of this wide family of drugs is to be consumed recreationally through snorting, intravenous injection, and smoking, they have been unable to effectively remove it from the market.
Bath salts are created with high dosages of amphetamine-like chemicals such as methyletedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), the mephedrone, and methylone. No one is sure what the exact recipes of bath salts are, the drug is so new that there is no definitive list of ingredients that can be pinned down to being the recipe.
The variations in the forms of bath salts found are wide enough that much of the legislation that is being passed to ban them bans the three main chemicals in bath salts instead of the drug cocktail mixture itself. The ultimate result is that the chemists producing the drug are constantly modifying the ingredients, leaving users with the same high and avoiding any legislation.
In October 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration placed a blanket control over several main chemicals found in bath salts.
However, further and more permanent restrictions have yet to be enacted by the agency. At least 38 states have enacted bath salt bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although each state has varying penalties and punishments for the possession and trafficking of the drugs found in bath salts.
Florida is one of the states that has banned bath salts, but its easy availability online along with the previously mentioned loopholes have not stopped it from getting in to the hands of any potential users willing to put in the effort.
In the face of government regulations, the use of the drug has increased. In 2010, American Association of Poison Control reported only approximately 300 reports that involved bath salt consumption. In 2011, there were approximately 6,000 plus calls involving the drug. By May 1, 2012 poison control centers around the United States have received more than a thousand calls because of bath salts.
Effects of the drug have been paranoia, hallucinations, chest pains, suicidal ideation, extreme agitation and aggressive behavior, extremely high body temperature, and extreme recklessness. Dr. Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room doctor in Phoenix, Arizona commented in an interview with the New York Timesthat he had to administer general anesthesia because two patients who were suffering the effects of bath salts were not responding to sedatives.
In some cases the drug’s effects eventually led to kidney failure from muscle death.
Bath salts have been the assumed cause of several high profile news stories around the United States. First there was the Memorial Day weekend Miami zombie attack, where Rudy Eugene attacked a homeless man, Robert Poppo, for approximately 20 minutes before being shot to death by police officers. It is strongly believed that Rudy Eugene was in a state of excited delirium, according to police, from ingestion of the drug.
Following this, a New Jersey mom, Pamela McCarthy, was tasered by police last week after they were unable to subdue her without force. McCarthey had beat her son and when law enforcement arrived was running around naked.
The tasing put her in to cardiac arrest and she later died in the hospital. McCarthy had a history of using bath salts and while it has yet to be verified, it is believed she was under the influence of them yet again at the time of this incident.
Despite the recent focus in the news, this is not the first time that the drug has shown up in the media or been the cause of particularly violent behavior.
Last April, investigators found that Army Sgt. David Stewart killed himself, his wife Kristy, and their 5 year-old son while under the influence of the drug.
In light of recent incidents, the government will begin to regulate the drug more heavily, looking for a way to eliminate all loopholes and making it as difficult as possible for people to get their hands on the drug.