Deadly drugs: What you need to know about 'bath salts' and 'spice'

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 4 at 12:02 PM

PHOENIX -- While "bath salts" and "spice" might sound harmless enough, doctors say they are anything but. They are among the newest drugs on the market, popular because at this point they cannot be detected. They simply don't show up on drugs tests.

"Everyone thinks they can get away with it because you can't test for it on drug tests, but what we're seeing is that it's indeed very, very dangerous for our kids," explained Dr. Ravi Chandiramani, an addiction specialist with Journey Healing Centers.

Synthetic drugs like bath salts and spice, which if often labeled as "herbal incense," can wreak havoc on the body.

"The side effects can be similar to cocaine and meth, and many have been reported, including paranoia, hallucinations, heart palpitations, seizures, kidney failure and even death," Chandiramani said.

Because bath salts and spice are not detectable, it can be extremely difficult to treat a patient suffering from adverse effects or an overdose. If the patient can't or won't tell ER staff what they've taken, doctors can't properly diagnose and treat him or her.

With prom season nearly here, parents should be aware that the use of these kinds of drugs tends to increase, posing a significant threat to kids.

"Unfortunately, we're seeing more and more of this in our high schools," the doctor said,

Chandiramani pointed out that packaging for bath salts and spice specifically say "not for human consumption."

"Kids are walking right into the store, getting sold this stuff and ending up in emergency rooms," he continued.

In addition to the serious symptoms above, Chandiramani said ERs and Journey Healing Centers have even seen cases of psychosis stemming from use of bath salts.

"These are young kids that should not be psychotic," he said.

What's more theses drugs, like their better-known cousins, are addictive.

"You can have some withdrawal from it," he explained.

Chandiramani said it's essential that parents know what their kids are doing with their money. At between $30 and $50, bath salts and spice are relatively inexpensive.

Parents also need to know their children's friends.

"Are you working with other parents to make sure that when they are together, they're not spending their time getting their hands on these kinds of things, using them and then ending up in the emergency room?" Chandiramani asked in the way of offering parent tips to protect their kids.

Despite pressure from the DEA and a rash of laws -- both state and federal -- banning bath salts -- Chandiramani said the drugs are still relatively easy to get.

Banned in Arizona

In February, authorities in Northern Arizona busted five businesses they say were illegally selling bath salts.

Gov. Jan Brewer recently signed an emergency ban on the synthetic drugs, which doctors say have an effect similar to methamphetamines.

The businesses sold the bath salt products when it was not yet illegal under state law, according to Sgt. Brandon Bonney, Prescott Valley Police Department spokesman.

Synthetic drugs have led to individuals suffering from paranoia, hallucinations. lethal overdoses and suicide. While the substances are now illegal by state law, they have been banned federally for several months. 

For information on Journey Healing Centers and its spice/bath salts treatments, go to www.journeyrecoverycenters.com.

Jennifer Thomas contributed to this story.

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