Apr 28, 2012

Bath Salts

Over the last twelve months, the "designer" drug known as bath salts has taken off in this area. If you're not familiar with the name, it's not the flowery-smelling stuff Mom soaked in, nor the Epsom-branded stuff Aunt Joanne soaks her feet in. It's a way for the makers to try to skirt laws.

They label a package with a name like "Purple Wave" or "Vanilla Sky" or umpty-odd other names that sound like '60s garage bands then stamp it "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION". They're sold over-the-counter in many states, although quite a few have made them illegal.

The drug is cheap - a quick look-around online shows pricing around $20-30 for a half gram, which is (according to more quick looking) 25-100 doses. Think about that for a minute. A half of a gram is enough drug for twenty-five doses. 

It can be ingested, inhaled, injected, or smoked - and according to what I'm hearing from the street, the same varietal will provide a different high depending on how it's used.

Sounds great, right? (I mean, if you're into such things. I'm not.) One slight problem. The list of side effects in that link above. Tachycardia. Insomnia. Headache. Kidney Pain. Agitation. Paranoia. Psychotic delusion. Suicidal thoughts/actions. Addiction. Psychosis. Etc, etc, etc.

On a near-daily basis, we're running into people who are having psychotic or delusional breaks from reality thanks to these drugs. They hallucinate people trying to kill them. They believe their clothes are on fire. They try to harm themselves. They will do bizarre things - like strip naked and walk out into a blizzard. They'll attack friends, family, and complete strangers. They're running from imaginary threats - and out into traffic. They're accusing imaginary people of trying to kill them - and fighting back.

I'm hearing that standard progression-of-force isn't working so well; verbal commands are a non-starter, spray is often ineffective, tasers are generally fine if you can get both probes in (but drive-stun is near worthless), and regardless of what else is going on these people seem to be a bit stronger than they should be.

Unless there's an immediate threat, officers are generally not approaching potential bath salts users without two or three officers present - because they're usually going to end up going hands-on.

Got that? Hallucinating, extra-strong, and standard less-lethal methods aren't working so well. Pyschotic breaks, agitation/aggressiveness, and all the rest.

Now the best part: this stuff can cause flashbacks, similar to LSD users having "trips" that were not induced by recent usage.

I don't get the appeal of ANY of this, truth be told. But it's out there, and you sure as hell need to be aware of it.


Julie said...

Sounds particularly awful ... i'm hoping it doesn't find its way here (but that's probably a forlorn hope).

Carteach said...

Thanks for the info. I suspect I am seeing some of this at school, but admin refuses to acnowlege, react, or provide us training to deal with it. We are on our own.

Can you point me towards some info on common usage and reactions? What should I be specifically looking for?

I teach in a tech school, with high school seniors. We do NOT allow them to have weapons.... since their personal weapons might damage the ones we hand them every day.

ZerCool said...

Julie - it's apparently made the club circuit in Europe as well, so I'd actually be surprised if it wasn't already washing up down under.

Carteach - it's tough to find good info right now, but these are what I found from a quick search:
WebMD and a pull from a powerpoint.

I generally don't hear about users professionally until their high is going bad - playing in traffic, attacking someone, paranoia/hallucinations, etc. It's looking like symptoms to look out for would be about what you'd expect from many stimulants: agitation, high heart rate/blood pressure*, sweatiness, shortness of breath, chest pains...

I don't know how much experience you have with addicts of any kind - but I'm sure some have moved through your classroom. Classic indicators are picking at the skin (meth addicts with their open sores are an extreme end), constant touching of the mouth/face (tooth loss is another giveaway), mood swings, and so forth.

Doing a bit more digging as I was typing this up found this powerpoint which is excellent. (Note that the flag was raised on bath salts in Dec 2010 ... by poison control centers.)

Also, take a look at Faces of Meth.

Hope this helps some.

Carteach said...

Thanks. I'll spend some time looking at the info.

I'm reasonably sure I have a drug problem in class right now. Behavior and actions all point towards it. I just can't figure out what it is they are using.

I've asked admin for a Woofy Walk three times now, and they just ignore me. If they don't find it, they don't have to deal.... and we are so close to the end of the year that a few weeks stalling makes it 'not their problem' anymore.

ZerCool said...

I'd be surprised if you *didn't* have a fair percentage of drug users. An economically depressed area (which south/central PA definitely meets, like many of the small-town/farm/dead industry communities), plus a tech school ... yeah. Rough combination to work with.

No, I'm not saying all tech school kids are druggies or problem children - but it seems like a higher percentage end up there.

As far as the dogs (took me a minute to figure out WTH a "woofy walk" was!), I'm not sure they have caught up dog training to handle bath salts... but it sure as hell can't hurt to do it.

Ruth said...

I had to explain to several of my co-workers the other day that "bath salts" as referenced by the media in these cases were not the things that their wives/girlfriends where buying at Bath & Body lol. They were quite confused....

DaddyBear said...

There have been a few cases here in Louisville. Luckily no fatalities yet, but some home break-ins where someone tripping to the moon thought he was at the right house when he was looking down the barrel of a shotgun.

Old NFO said...

They are also dealing with this in the overseas military (especially ones from Detroit and those types of cities)... ZERO tolerance in the military...

agirlandhergun said...

I must live under a rock. I have never heard of this. Sounds awful and stupid!

ZerCool said...

DB: only a matter of time until it becomes a fatality somewhere.

NFO: I'm glad to hear the services are zero-tolerance for drugs. (Ignoring my libertarian bent, I'm of the opinion that if you sign on the dotted line to serve our country, there are some things you just have to give up. Period. Full stop.)

AGirl: This is a phenomenally fast-moving trend. Compared to something like meth, which was the last big dangerous thing (and still is), which can be pretty easily tracked from the southeast and southwest corners of the country as it moved north and central... this cropped up REAL fast. The first briefing we saw on it was about a year ago, and it was a two-page blurb without much info other than "there's these things called bath salts, and they make people do stupid stuff."