News / USA

Synthetic Drug Problematic for US Authorities - Part 1 of 2

There is no detection test and no federal law on bath salts, a drug that causes violent, unpredictable actions.
There is no detection test and no federal law on bath salts, a drug that causes violent, unpredictable actions.
TEXT SIZE - +
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Virginia - A new synthetic drug, commonly called bath salts, hit America's streets a couple of years ago, but it went unnoticed until police began reporting cases of addicts with bizarre behavior.  Then, last month, authorities in Miami, Florida accused a man of eating another man's face.

It's calm now.  But it hasn't always been like this for Ashley. Last year, she awoke one morning inside a car, with no shoes and the temperature minus 8 degrees Celsius.  She says she was high on bath salts.

"This drug is psychotic. It is a crazy thing that no one should mess with," said Ashley.

Like most users, Ashley snorted this synthetic drug to get high. It looks similar, but is not the bath salts people use to soften bathwater.

Doctors say bath salts put users into a state of excited delirium. They are paranoid, super human - on a long-lasting high.

Addicts are often violent.  A man took off his clothes and allegedly bit off the face of another.  In another incident Police say a woman stripped and attacked her three-year-old son and her pit bull dog.
 
Calls to poison centers across the country have gone from none three years ago, to more than 6,000 last year.  Dr. Paul Stromberg of the Virginia Poison Center says hotline workers now know the symptoms.

"Patients have to be subdued by multiple police officers.  And, for whatever reason, every time you hear somebody is taking their clothes off, that usually is a bath salt case," said Stromberg.

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine have just discovered why bath salt drugs are so powerful. Louis DeFelice says they change the brain composition and act as if they are a mix of two drugs.

"This is a very powerful methamphetamine and very powerful, long lasting cocaine," said DeFelice.

Mephedrone is one of the main chemicals in bath salts.  It can have hundreds of variations, making detection virtually impossible.  So once one variation is banned, the kitchen chemist simply mixes up a different one.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has placed a temporary ban on bath salts.  Congress is trying to write a law to encompass all the mephedrone compounds.

In the meantime, all these bath salt knockoffs are legal in most states, and readily available.

Since this story was published, a toxicology report released by Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's office in Florida states the man involved in the face-biting incident had only marijuana in his system, not synthetic drugs such as bath salts, as previously reported.


Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid