Consumer Health Features

Addiction expert explains 'Bath Salts' and side effects, dangers

By April MacIntyre May 31, 2012, 5:38 GMT

Addiction expert explains 'Bath Salts' and side effects, dangers

The gruesome "cannibal" crime that happened in Miami brought a street drug cocktail to the forefront in the news once again.

The gruesome "cannibal" crime that happened in Miami brought a street drug cocktail to the forefront in the news once again.

The drug with the innocuous street name "bath salts" is actually illegal designer street drugs that are linked to addiction, violent delusions and death.

This week, Rudy Eugene, 31, became so agitated and hot he stripped naked and was driven by drug-fueled psychosis to literally eat the face of Ronald Poppo, 65, on Saturday, some police and doctors in Miami believe. Police shot and killed Eugene when he refused to stop eating Poppo's face.

A cyclist described the terrifying moment he witnessed Eugene tear pieces of flesh from Mr Poppo's face at the side of the freeway.

Larry Vega, from Miami, was cycling off the MacArthur Causeway on Saturday afternoon when he saw the savage attack, which he described as 'the most gruesome, traumatic thing I have ever seen in my life'.

He told WSVN: 'The guy was like tearing him to pieces with his mouth and I told him to get off. But the guy just kept eating the other guy away, like ripping his skin.

Warning: Highly NSFW, graphic crime scene photos of the victim and the criminal.

'A police officer came over, told him several times to get off then climbed over the divider and got in front of him and said, "Get off!" But the guy just stood his head up like that with a piece of flesh in his mouth and growled.'

Poppo is still in critical condition at a hospital. It is estimated that 75% of his actual facial features and skin are completely gone.

Reuters reports that these "bath salts" were also blamed in another Florida incident in which a man overdosed on the drug and died. Similar cases nationwide have led the Drug Enforcement Agency and state lawmakers to take action.

There are three chemicals used to make bath salts: mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone.  Because bath salts are made by "street chemists," there's really no way to know what chemicals are actually contained in any given quantity of bath salts, an expert shared with WebMD. There's also no medical test to detect bath salts in a patient. "The only way we know if someone has taken them is if they tell you," the expert said.

What happens under this potent cocktail is a variance of effects: Users will experience dangerously high body temperature, extreme paranoia, and vivid hallucinations.  Despite the dangers, the drug cocktail is reportedly on the rise in the United States.

Richard Taite, Cliffside Malibu

Richard Taite, Cliffside Malibu

 

Addiction expert Richard Taite, President and CEO of Cliffside Malibu, spoke to Monsters and Critics about the rise and effects of this specific drug abuse.

Mr. Taite oversees Cliffside Malibu, a rehabilitation residential facility that excels at medically supervised multi-therapies used in concert, customized for each individual patient case.  

The center, located in Malibu, specializes in a comfortable detox program followed up with an addiction treatment plan that will help get to the root of the underlying reasons for a patient's self-medicating in the first place.

Regarding this "new" drug that is a dangerous and unstable mix of chemicals, Mr. Taite says, "Based on my experience with past clientele who have used this new street drug Mephedrone, we have learned that the intended effects are similar to that of cocaine or amphetamines, which include euphoria, stimulation, an enhanced appreciation for music, elevated mood, and improved mental function."

"The client that I spoke to at greatest length about this subject, likened it to smoking crack and said it produced almost the exact same effect," added Mr. Taite.

"The side effects, as reported by the ECMDDA, include dilated pupils, poor concentration, teeth grinding, problems focusing visually, poor short-term memory, hallucinations, delusions, and erratic behavior. The side effects that have been reported by users include changes in body temperature, increased heart rate, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, increased sweating, discoloration of extremities, anxiety, paranoia and depression."

"Unfortunately the long term effects of this drug are still unknown because widespread use only started in 2003."

"This drug is dangerous, it causes unpredictable behavior, and like any other street drug, there’s really no way to stop people from taking it. The only thing we can do is continue to educate people and create awareness about the devastation it can cause."

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