Emergency rooms in the U.S. have reported a 20-fold increase in the number of bath salts drug abusers since 2010, data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers confirms. The synthetic drug gained notoriety after police said a Miami man shot dead while chewing the face of a homeless man man have been abusing bath salts.
The AAPCC data said reports of bath salts cases in American emergency rooms numbered about 300 in 2010 but then skyrocketed to over 6,100 in 2011. The synthetic drug, likened to "PCP on crack" is traditionally made out of a cocktail of three drugs - Mephedrone, 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone.
A report by the Annals of Emergency Medicine stated the drug was first reported in Germany in 2007. Users of bath salts, which can be injected, snorted, inhaled or swallowed, oftentimes report sever paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, violence and a lack of physical pain.
"Marketed under names such as 'Ivory Wave,' 'Purple Wave,' 'Vanilla Sky' or 'Bliss,' these products are comprised of a class of chemicals perceived as mimics of cocaine, LSD, MDMA, and/or methamphetamine," the Drug Enforcement Agency said in an October 2011 release exercised its emergency scheduling authority to control the aforementioned three chemicals.
However, whenever any of the drugs in the mixture becomes outlawed in a state or by the federal government, producers simply replace said chemical with a similar one.
The drugs have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and many states, such as Indiana, have already instituted bans on the chemicals. But producers continue to secretly manufacture and sell these products.
On Monday, five gas stations and a convenience store were raided in Indiana after patrons reported seeing bath salts for sale. Likewise, $29,00 worth of the drug was found in a Pennsylvania motel this week and $100,000 in a Foods Plus market in Plaistow, New Hampshire.
U.S. lawmakers and citizens alike have become more aware and concerned about violent acts tied to the drug's use after the May 26 attack of 65-year-old homeless man Ronald Poppo by Rudy Eugene, 31. Eugene, who may have been high on the drug, beat Poppo after finding him asleep on a North Miami freeqay ramp, then proceeded to strip himself and Poppo naked and eat the other man's face.
When police responded to 911 calls reporting the attack, which was still in progress, Eugene growled at law enforcement agents before resuming consuming Poppo's face. Eugene was shot and killed by police when he failed to stop the attack.
Other recent reports of violent acts performed while on the drug include Panama City, Fl. woman who attempted to decapitate her 71 year old mother and another man who chewed up the back seat of a patrol car after being arrested.
And the reports only continue. On Monday, bath salts user Shane Shuyler exposed himself to multiple children, including a three-year-old girl, and made lewd comments at a playground in North Miami Beach. Shuyler was arrested and faces several counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.
Multiple attempts have been made on the state and federal level to outlaw the drug. Twelve states have instituted bans and the U.S. House and Senate passed H. R. 1254 to amend the Controlled Substances Act to place synthetic drugs in Schedule I.
The bill, expected to be signed by President Barack Obama soon, will enforce a minimum 20 year prison sentence against first offenders who sell or manufacture the drug and 30 years for a second offense.
The private sector is aslo beginning to capitalize on the increase in bath salts abuse. Redwood Toxicology Laboratory announced Monday they will offer expanded urine drug test for the 21 designer synthetic stimulants that most often make up bath salts.
Despite the increasingly widespread abuse of the drug in the U.S., the case that still draws in the public's attention is that of the Miami Causeway Cannibal. Poppo is alive but unable to speak due to the loss of 75 percent of his face in the attack. Doctors were expected to update the media on his condition Tuesday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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