"It’s nothing new. It’s stimulant abuse in its most recent formulation, and unfortunately, it leads to bad consequences, but it’s really no different than other waves of other stimulant abuses in the past,” says Tamas Peredy, an emergency-room physician in Portland, Maine, and medical director of the Northern New England Poison Center.
A Miami police official has speculated that bath salts were behind the bizarre May 26 incident in which a 31-year-old man allegedly tore off the clothes of a homeless man under a highway and ripped off parts of his face. Toxicology reports have not been released on the attacker, who had to be shot at least five times by police trying to stop the assault, according to The Miami Herald.
Unlike cocaine or heroin, bath salts are synthetic stimulants that contain various chemical compounds. Emergency rooms and poison centers report that overdoses have caused problems ranging from paranoia to hallucinations. It is unclear how addictive the bath salts are.
“We had people telling us: ‘This is the worst thing I ever did, but the cravings were so intense that I used it for eight days straight,’ ” says Louisiana Poison Center Director Mark Ryan, who in 2010 was one of the first doctors to document the surge in cases.