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.
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 Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid