Beware of 'bath salt' dangers

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by Sybil Hoffman

azfamily.com

Posted on June 13, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 15 at 12:25 PM

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Some compare it to methamphetamine while others say it’s more powerful than cocaine.

Experts say it can lead to days of hallucinating, paranoia, suicide and even murder. The problem is the designer drug, marketed as bath salts, is being sold over the counter in the Valley.

Pam Glasier’s son became addicted to “Eight Ballz” bath salts this spring. “I would look at it and go, bath salts, why would I want a little package this big, of bath salts?”

The bath salts we’re referring to come in a tiny package with no list of ingredients, no mention it’s a drug or that it can be addictive.

Glasier says, "It's packaged in such a subtle way that the normal person wouldn't even give it a second thought."

Unfortunately for Pam’s son, Eight Ballz Bath Salts almost destroyed him. Glasier says, "He would stay awake for up to four or five days, not eat, he's lost 40 pounds." Pam’s son, who requested to remain anonymous, told us it’s available on nearly every corner. "You can get it at gas stations, smoke shops, convenience stores and it’s just getting started."  

Dr. Daniel Brooks with the Valley’s Poison Control says, "It will continue to get worse as long as the product is available on the street." Brooks is the co-medical director for Banner Good Samaritan Poison Center.

Brooks says the number of calls coming in about bath salts exposure is exploding. In 2010, they took 35 calls but in five months of this year the center has taken 46 calls.

The growing trend has the Drug Enforcement Agency in Phoenix on alert. They’ve consider bath salts a ‘drug of concern” but say the “regulatory process is slow and lengthy and some synthetic drugs are so new that the date requires a lot of research.”

The fact that bath salts are so new is creating another problem.

Brooks explains, "They won't show up in common drug screens. If a patient has an adverse effect or abuses or overdoses on bath salts, goes to the emergency department and has a regular drug screen done, it can come back negative.

If they don't tell the nurse what they were taking, no one will have any idea. "The vast majority, 99 percent of the emergency departments and hospitals in and around Phoenix they don't have the specific tests in their lab to find these drugs."  

State Representative Eric Meyer believes this is a public safety issue. During its last session, Arizona lawmakers tried to pass House Bill 2510 which would have put bath salts on the list of dangerous drugs but it never went anywhere.

There are plans to reintroduce a similar bill next session. Meyer explained the bill would mean, “You would do serious jail time if you were selling this drug. What that would do is simply take it out of all the places that it's so easy to get today.”

Glasier and her son are just hopeful lawmakers intervene sooner rather than later. "It could get in the wrong hands and who knows what it could do.”

More information by calling Banner Good Samaritan Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Rep. Eric Meyer (District 11) can be reached at 602-926-3037 or by emailing emeyer@azleg.gov.

Statement from White House Drug Policy Director on Synthetic Stimulants, a.k.a "Bath Salts"

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