News of bath salts seem to be coming up a lot, with police linking a whole host of crimes to its use. Our Kat De Maria spoke with experts and tells us what they say is behind the phenomenon.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Ever since a bizarre, cannibalistic incident in Florida, the country has been abuzz with news of bath salts. At YNN, the press releases are accumulating.
"Anytime we have an agitated patient who's violent now, it seems we're saying that's bath salts. Is it bath salts? It's so hard to say," said Alexander Garrard, Upstate Poison Center Clinical Toxicologist.
Experts said that's because the term bath salts, is really a catchall for a number of chemical compounds, which are constantly changing. Because of that, there is no test for them. Police share anecdotal evidence, people who say they tried the drugs, like in the case of a Brewerton man who drowned after he jumped into Oneida Lake.
Experts said bath salts are not that new.
"They were used as an experimental program for making drugs, medicine. Now they've turned black market," explained Dr. Ellen Vachon, drug expert.
They have gained popularity and publicity over the last year or so. Most of the incidents in Central New York have been in the Mohawk Valley. Last month Pamela McCarth, 35, died after assaulting her child and being tased by the police.
Recent incidents involved a 39-year-old man threatening to cut out his own heart during his fourth visit from police related to bath salts. The drugs hit home in Syracuse earlier this week when Jesse Claflin, 31, held a knife to a child's throat. Experts said that stories like these will likely lead to there being more.
"The worse a drug is, from a drug point of view, the better the drug is. So more people are dying and having near-death experiences, the more the addict is going to chase that drug," said Dr. Vachon.
We started to wonder if all of the coverage by us and other news agencies might be playing a role in the prevalence of bath salts. The experts we spoke with said yes, and no.
"On one hand, it's very important to let the public know about these substances because it's really only through public effort and the public voice we're able to get legislation passed. But on the same token, it's like free advertising to these bath salts," said Dr. Garrard.
No bath salts were found in the system of the infamous Florida man. But experts said that doesn't mean they weren't there, for the reasons discussed earlier. They said as much as the public might be tired of hearing about bath salts, the cycle will continue, getting the drugs into the public awareness and then hopefully doing something about them.