Miami Cannibal Attack: Horrific Dangers of "Bath Salts" Drug

The “cannibal” attacker who gnawed off another man’s face in Miami is suspected to have been high on a dangerous street drug called “bath salts.” Police say that during the zombie-like naked rampage that horrified the world, Rudy Eugene, 31, displayed deranged behavior similar to other horrific crimes linked to bath salts, before being shot dead by police on Saturday. 

Bath salts, which have been called the new LSD, cause people “to go completely insane and become very violent,” said Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told CNN. Also known by street names like “Ivory Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Bliss,” “Dynamite” and “Purple Rain,” bath salts made headlines last year after a torrent of ER visits, thousands of calls to poison control centers, and a number of deaths, including murders and suicides.

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Banned in several states, bath salts contain amphetamine-like chemicals that have uniquely hazardous effects on the brain. “If you take the worst attributes of meth, coke, PCP, LSD and Ecstasy and put them together, that’s what we’re seeing sometimes,” Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, told The New York Times.

The synthetic, designer drug is deemed an “imminent threat to public safety” by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While bath salts themselves are not yet illegal on the federal level, the DEA issued a one-year ban on possession and sale of the three main ingredients—mephedrone, MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone), and methylone—on October 11, 2011. 

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Why Are They Called “Bath Salts”?

This toxic cocktail of stimulant chemicals—which can be swallowed, snorted, or injected—has nothing in common with the harmless bath salts used to make tub water smell good, such as Epsom salts.

Instead, “bath salts” is a name used to market the drug in tobacco and drug paraphernalia shops, with labels reading, “not for human consumption,” in a bid to avoid a ban on its sale. Also sold on the street, bath salts fall into the same DEA classification as amphetamines, mescaline, and ephedrine. 

What Are the Effects of Bath Salts?

CNN reports, “The effects include producing feelings of empathy, stimulation, alertness, euphoria, sensory awareness and hallucinations. Other reported effects include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and sweating. According to the DEA, MDPV has been reported to cause intense panic attacks, psychosis, and a strong desire to use the drug again.”

Physiological effects include high blood pressure and increased heart rate, according to a report by WebMD. According to a CDC report of bath salt abusers in Michigan, users risk both psychological side effects and physical side effects.

In fact, according to Huffington Post:

  • 91 percent of users had neurological damage
  • 77 percent experienced cardiovascular damage
  • 49 percent had psychological difficulties associated with the drug
  • 37 percent of the people who suffered mental health problems reported attempting suicide or having suicidal thoughts related to bath salts

A drug counselor urges parents to warn their kids about bath salts. "Let them know: The bath you take with 'bath salts' is dangerous and at the deep end of the toxic pool."

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