Pubdate: Sat, 19 Mar 2011
Source: Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2011 Wausau Daily Herald
Author: Jeff Starck


A dangerously powerful new synthetic drug growing in popularity across
the U.S. has local substance abusers admitting they want nothing to do
with the drug, according to a local expert.

A chemical compound sold as "bath salts" are now are being abused to
get a powerful high. The chemical stimulants in the bath salts can
cause hallucinations, as well as chest pains, increased blood
pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, extreme paranoia and
delusions when inhaled, smoked or injected.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers said bath salts are
touted as a substitute for cocaine and create intense cravings similar
to methamphetamine. Media reports across the country tell stories of
people who killed others or injured themselves while under the
influence of bath salts.

Actual bath salts used by people in bathtubs are usually
marble-shaped, made of oil and makes soap suds in water, said Robert
Block, who retired last week as the state's top drug recognition
expert at the state Crime Lab in Madison. The bath salts being abused
are a dry chemical powder like cocaine and do not make suds, he said.

Sue Nowak, a drug abuse specialist who works with teenagers throughout
central and northern Wisconsin for the Wausau-based Premier Recovery
Services, said bath salts' reputation has scared off many from trying
the substance.

"Kids ... don't want anything to do with it," Nowak

The only known contact local police have had with someone who was
under the influence of bath salts was March 7 in Wausau. Police
responded to a 911 call at a home on the 600 block of Fifth Avenue,
where a 28-year-old woman admitted snorting bath salts and threatening
her husband with a knife and breaking his cell phone, according to a
police report.

Police have heard reports of bath salts abuse in the community, but
they have not caught anyone using the product, said Marathon County
Sheriff's Lt. Gary Schneck, who supervises the county's drug
investigation unit.

Like other synthetic marijuana products such as K2, spice and salvia,
bath salts often are sold legally in grocery stores, gas stations and
gift shops with names such as Vanilla Sky, White Rush and Ivory Wave.

Block said he worked with Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, to draft
legislation that is pending to ban synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

"It has no medical use and is not meant for human consumption," Block
said of bath salts.

Poison centers nationwide took 469 calls in the first 45 days of 2011
about bath salts, according to the American Association of Poison
Control Centers. Poison centers took just 292 calls in 2010, the
association said. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.