In a weird week of news, a social media firestorm was lit when the story of Miami man, Rudy Eugene, was found naked, gruesomely eating the face of another man. Police were only able to stop the attack after shooting and Eugene. The story sounds something out of a George Romero zombie movie as many took to Facebook and Twitter to jokingly warn of an impending zombie apocalypse.
In actuality, the attacker was not infected with a zombie virus but was most likely, according to Armando Aguilar, President of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, under the influence of synthetic stimulants or what is commonly referred to as "bath salts".
Bath salts are a growing concern amongst law enforcement agencies. These aren't the bath salts that make a bathtub smell flowery - they are a synthetically manufactured drug that extremely hazardous to a person's health. The term Bath Salts is a red herring similar to the way "herbal incense" is to synthetic marijuana. It's escaped under the nose of law enforcement by being sold as product with labels such as "not for human consumption". In reality, they are being sold at head shops around the United States for that exact use.
In addition to being called Bath Salts, they have also been marketed under the disguise of "Plant Food" or "Insect Repellent". Like "Spice", they have been sold under brand names such as "Ivory Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Bliss,” and “Purple Rain”.
Manufactures of the drug have boasted the drug to be a cocaine substitute or synthetic LSD. The method of intake is usually through snorting or injecting it intravenously.
The drug exploded in popularity last year by making headlines because of a rush of ER visits, several deaths and calls to poison control. New headlines are now being made because of the Miami attack and its link to the drug.
The effects of bath salts are similar to cocaine mixed with methamphetamines. Its use can lead to aggressive, psychotic behavior as well as hallucinations and the feeling of euphoria. The Drug Enforcement Agency stated the bath salts have reported to cause panic attacks, addictive like tendencies (a desire to use the drug again), and psychosis. Users have also complained of sudden increases in body temperature which explains why Rudy Eugene was found naked.
The Long term of effects of Bath Salts are unknown since the drug is relatively new.
As a result, in October 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency banned three of the active chemicals used to create Bath Salts by giving them a Schedule I designation.
Bath Salts are made with the active agent of either Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP), mephedrone or methylone. All three are psychoactive stimulants. Mephedrone and methylone are from amphetamine and cathinone classes.
Bath Salts can be tested by screening for the presence of methylone, mephadrone, and MDPV metabolites with a urine drug screen. Employers should first write appropriate literature into its substance abuse policy before testing for bath salts.