By Sierra Robinson
June 11, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Last month, a tragic incident in Florida, now nationally known as the ‘Florida Zombie Attack’, has been attributed to a dangerous drug most commonly known as ‘bath salts’. But just how dangerous is this new drug? Are we all in danger of such a horrific attack like that in Florida?
Use of ‘bath salts’ has been dramatically increasing. The American Association for Poison Control Centers took 303 calls about the drug in 2010; while in the first eight months of 2011, 4,720 calls were received regarding use of such synthetic drugs. Local and national authorities now warn the public about an alarming rise in serious health reactions and violent incidents linked to these drugs. But what are they, exactly, and what makes them so dangerous?
What they are:
With no relation to bathing products, ‘bath salts’ are synthetic stimulants, created in a lab. Laced with some non-dangerous products, such as incense, chemically altered drugs are mixed in as well—and can vary widely. Compared to marijuana, which grows from a plant, ‘bath salt’ and other synthetic drugs are much more dangerous.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies bath salts under the same category as amphetamines, mescaline, and ephedrine. They can cause a person “to go completely insane and become very violent,” Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told CNN. Bath salts also present an incredibly addictive quality, causing a strong urge to do the drug again.
It is important to note that of those brought in to the Michigan poison control center for bath salt intoxication, 91% showed neurological symptoms and 77% had cardiovascular (heart) symptoms. Nearly half of the patients had psychological symptoms, including hallucinations, paranoia and delusions. 17 were admitted to intensive care, and one was dead on arrival.
Steps taken against it:
Several states have banned synthetic drugs. Before last year, it was legal to sell such drugs on the streets in California and also in drug paraphernalia shops. But Assemblymember Ben Hueso D-San Diego) authored AB 486, which outlawed the selling of these drugs in California starting last October. He also authored a bill (AB 2420) that would have outlawed the possession of synthetic drugs like bath salts, which failed to pass committee. This means that although one is unable to sell, they can legally possess the drug. Hueso hopes to reintroduce the measure next legislative session.
Tips for parents:
“The bath you take with `bath salts’ is dangerous and at the deep end of the toxic pool,” one drug counselor stated, Huffington Post reported. The counselor warned parents to caution kids and teens about the dangerous and highly addictive drugs.
The chemical in bath salts also causes suicidal thoughts. Authorities suspect that the death of a Poway teen who shot himself after smoking a chemical-laced marijuana product was caused by bath salts or a related synthetic drug. There have even been cases where several local teenagers have missed out of their high school graduation; all were in the ER because of bath salt-related health problems. One boy even suffered a heart attack, and although he was resuscitated, he was unable to walk at graduation, said Paolo Avila with Assemblyman Hueso’s office.
If you are a parent, it is a frightening thought that your child might be at risk. In order to keep an eye out, you must also keep an ear open, and be able to recognize some of the street names for this drug. Several are, ‘Vanilla Sky’, ‘Pineapple Express’, ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Ivory Wave’. So watch out, and listen up to keep your kids safe.