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‘Bath Salts’: A public health crisis

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by Tom Chillemi
First in a series

“These are absolutely the worst drugs (Youtube) I’ve ever seen,” is how one drug investigator described “Bath Salts,” the street name for synthetic drugs that alter the brain—sometimes permanently.

Bath Salts (WebMD) are sold legally under the guise of being added to bath water. The package is labeled “not for human consumption.” But their true use is sinister. When ingested, Bath Salts mimic other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, with horrible effects that lead to paranoid behaviors, violence, seizures and too often a trip to the hospital, said Eric Van Fossen, coordinator with the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force.

Van Fossen will be a speaker at a “synthetic drug” awareness meeting on Sunday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at Zoar Baptist Church in Deltaville. All area middle and high school youth are encouraged to attend.

A public awareness meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Sunday, October 21, at Zoar Church in Deltaville.

The paradox of Bath Salts is obvious, said a drug investigator with 16 years experience. “Who would pay more than $35 for a package with a teaspoon of crystals to put in their bath water?”

He said there are more than 80 different synthetic drugs with enticing names such as Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Bliss, and Zoom, to name a few.

“Bath Salts are a public health crisis,” said State Delegate Keith Hodges of Urbanna, a pharmacist who serves on the General Assembly’s substance abuse council.

The long-term effects of using unknown toxic chemicals are unknown, Del. Hodges said. However, horror stories are surfacing that seem more like fiction, but are indeed fact.

The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office responded to more than 20 Bath Salts-related emergencies in two months this spring.

In April 2012, a Middlesex County man on Bath Salts destroyed his own home, and the following week he destroyed the inside of his neighbor’s home.

In May 2012, a Middlesex County teenager was transported to the hospital for elevated heart rate five times in 36 hours after using “Amped.”

In April, a Gloucester County woman saw aliens, FBI agents in trees, and snakes after using “Amped.” She ended up in intensive care.

At this Sunday’s meeting, professionals will be on hand to answer health questions about these highly-addictive drugs.

Other speakers include Middlesex Sheriff’s Office investigators Captain M.E. Sampson and C.B. Sibley. Call Captain Sampson at 758-1335 for more information.

A one-way trip, with no return
At this Sunday’s synthetic drug awareness meeting in Deltaville, parents whose deceased son used Bath Salts will share their tragic story. Their son started using Bath Salts when he was 17. In August his parents had to make the decision to terminate his life-support equipment. Their only son was dead at 20.

Even though the young man quit doing drugs and alcohol and developed a new relationship with God, he still had “flashbacks” of being on Bath Salts, said his father.

He had been clean for 2 years but still hallucinated that people were standing in the road as he drove. His parents spent thousands of dollars trying to correct the damage that had been done to his brain by Bath Salts.

The four-time All-State wrestler had fits of intense anger for no reason at all, and would call his parents from college in the middle of the night and rant for hours seeking relief.

In the end, nothing could reverse the damage done by Bath Salts. Nothing.

Part 2

posted 10.17.2012

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