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Aug 6, 2012 6:46 AM

Bath Salts: Battling synthetic drug nightmare

TUCSON - Bath Salts, a synthetic drug is making headlines all over the country. This dangerous drug can cause psychosis and other major health problems.

Federal, State, and Local governments are trying to ban bath salts, but drug makers are staying one step ahead of the law by constantly changing the ingredients.

It's sold over the internet and, in some places, over the counter. Bath Salts are marketed under names like Vanilla Sky and Ivory Wave. Users shell out 25-30 dollars for a fraction of an ounce. Many users looking for a cheap high end up in jail or in the hospital.

Symptoms include, "Stimulation, agitation, extreme paranoia, those who become very aggressive, aggressive towards other people and sometimes to themselves," said Dr. Keith Boesen, managing director at the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

Users snort it, eat it, smoke it, or shoot it up. But they never know what's really in it because the chemists keep changing the recipe, taking out ingredients that are banned by the government and adding new ingredients that haven't been outlawed.

That means each time a user takes the drug it's like the first time. "They're untested in the human body in any way, shape, or form and the test subjects are the people going out and purchasing them and trying them," said Dr. Boesen.

Dr. Matt Heinz, emergency room physician and member of the state House of Representatives, pushed for legislation to make bath salts illegal in Arizona.

According to the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, Arizona has seen a 30 percent decline in the number of exposures to bath salts in the first six months of this year compared to last.

But those incidents can be bizarre, frightening, and violent. Dr. Heinz treated a patient who was freaking out on bath salts. "He had spontaneously run down the street, tackled a neighbor six or seven houses down, and then ended up throwing himself through a plate glass window."

A former user going through rehab in Tucson says he can relate to that story. He told News 4 Tucson that bath salts made him do things he'd never do sober.

"Crazy things - run through people's backyards, chasing people that weren't there following voices that were in my head. I've never heard voices prior to taking bath salts," said the man who requested to remain anonymous.

That man is in his mid 30's, he's been drinking and taking drugs since he was 14. He's been clean and sober for more than a year, scared straight by the horrible highs he experienced on bath salts. "With all the drugs that I've seen and that I've experimented with, this blows the rest out of the water by a long shot. It's absolutely horrifying."

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