Can Bath Salts be linked to recent cannibalism attacks?

By Lisa A Durvin

A household product created to be enjoyed for relaxation and its therapeutic properties within a hot bath known as bath salts, has become mistaken for the synthetic cocaine drug named Bath Salts. Bath salts for relaxation are a mixture of sea salt and fragrance used for bathing. They are also known as Epsom salt. The Bath Salt drugs are mixtures of amphetamine-like chemicals. Bath Salts have been noted to produce adverse reactions such as high body temperature, elevated pulse, chest pain, increased heart rate, unconsciousness, extreme paranoia, vivid hallucinations and possible death. This drug also inhibits the production of dopamine to the brain.

Both the relaxation product and synthetic drug look very similar in their exterior appearances since they are both crystallized powders. Bath Salts can be snorted, smoked, injected, anally absorbed or mixed with food or drink. This drug is a stimulant, increasing activity in the nervous system, much like methamphetamine or cocaine. This drug has such a wide range of manufacturing and packaging that the chemicals in each batch can vary extensively.

Bath Salts are the newest “drug craze” rapidly spreading within our nation, including our local Las Vegas community. In 2009, the use of Bath Salts by teens and young adults started to get noticed. They were sold legally in gas stations, convenience stores, via Internet and smoke shops. This synthetic drug has many aliases such as Ivory Wave, Red Dove and Purple Wave. In 2010, poison control centers around the U.S. started receiving hundreds of calls in reference to the use of Bath Salts. The American Medical Association joined the nationwide ban on Bath Salts in June of 2011 which led to the DEA issuing an emergency ban in September. After numerous states started banning Bath Salts, a bill for a Federal ban was created in April of 2012. This bill will make the manufacturing, selling or possession of Bath Salts and crystal-like substances with methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), methylone and mephedrone illegal.

In the last few months, there have been incident reports of individuals who have experienced such a negative reaction on Bath Salts that they fell into a drug-induced psychosis. During a handful of these Bath Salt-induced psychosis, cannibalistic attacks transpired. David Levey, a spokesperson for the DEA has stated, “Most people, fortunately, don’t want to chew people’s faces off … But it’s all across the board, and it’s often unpredictable. There are more and more tales of Bath Salt-related cannibalism popping up, but that doesn’t mean the salts are causing a zombie epidemic.” The CDC has explicitly stated that the cannibalism incidents are not the result of a zombie virus. The agency has stated in short, “The face-eating has happened in isolated incidents. It’s uncommon. There’s no specific reason for it other than drug psychosis. Don’t take Bath Salts.”

Here in Vegas, some local smoke shops are still currently advertising Bath Salts by attractive names such as “White Girl,” “Pump it Up Powder,” “C original,” “Free base,” among other titles. The products are being sold as an enhanced plant vitamin, jewelry cleaner, a stain remover, a scratch remover for electronics, and a polishing powder. They are able to constantly change the name and its uses in order to still sell it to consumers. Bath Salts are also sold at night clubs and “rave” parties here in town. Until an actual Federal ban is put into effect, people will still be able to buy Bath Salts.

More than 40 states, including Nevada, have already banned Bath Salts. Senator Charles E. Schumer has presented three bills related to synthetic drugs. Schumer’s bill banning Bath Salts has passed the Senate and is currently waiting to be signed by President Obama in early July. “This bill closes loopholes that allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensures that you cannot simply cross state lines to find these deadly Bath Salts,” Schumer has said in a release. “… We have seen bath salts catalyze some of the most heinous crimes in recent months and President Obama’s signature will ensure that the federal government can fight this scourge with a united front. Soon Bath Salts will be classified as a Schedule I drug, one that cannot be prescribed under any circumstances.” If this bill passes, then MDPV, methylone, mephedrone and 28 other chemicals related to Bath Salts and other synthetic drugs will become illegal.

Even if the Federal Government and State bans go nationwide, the usage of Bath Salts will still occur. Changing the names or usage of them, altering or creating new chemicals to get comparable “highs” are the flaws with trying to get rid of Bath Salts permanently. One can only hope that with the recent reactions to consuming Bath Salts, individuals will be petrified of the dangers and health risks this drug fabricates.

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