After the gruesome “Miami Zombie” attack introduced bath salts into the mainstream, it seems a day doesn’t pass without new reports of shocking attacks allegedly produced by the new synthetic drug, and authorities around the country scrambling to deal with the threat this innocuously named drug represents.
The current bath salts crisis bear resemblance to previous drug crises, particularly the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic. And as such, bath salts are threatening entire recession-hit communities with maddening attacks that are testing emergency-room doctors, police officers and lawmakers the same way crack did in the 1980s and crystal meth in the 1990s and 2000s.
But, unlike cocaine or heroin, bath salts are synthetic stimulants that contain various chemical compounds. Its overdose can cause paranoia and hallucinations, and until recently it was legal and widely distributed in most states through shops and convenience stores. Now, at least 38 states have banned them, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has put three bath salt compounds on its emergency ban list.
However, bath salts still can be discretely ordered on the internet, contributing to its abuse which has increased the number of bath salts-related drug reports made this year. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2012, over 1,000 cases have been reported so far.