"Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," Vanilla Sky," and "Bliss" all are among the many street names of a so called designer drug known as “bath salts,” which has sparked thousands of calls to poison centers across the U.S. over the last year.
Citing an “imminent threat to public safety,” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made illegal the possession and sale of three of the chemicals commonly used to make bath salts.
"Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain, suicidally. It’s a very scary stimulant that is out there. We get high blood pressure and increased pulse, but there’s something more, something different that’s causing these other extreme effects. But right now, there’s no test to pick up this drug. The only way we know if someone has taken them is if they tell you they have.
The clinical presentation is similar to mephedrone, with agitation, psychosis, and stimulatory effects. Both of these agents should be of concern, as severe agitated behavior, like an amphetamine overdose, has occurred.
A second concern is the ongoing suicidally in these patients, even after the stimulatory effects of the drugs have worn off. At least for MDPV, there have been a few highly publicized suicides a few days after their use," Horowitz says
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has issued an public alert about "bath salts", a new synthetic drug that is illegal in some countries and in parts of the U.S.
The drug, which can be injected, snorted, smoked and swallowed, has moved across the border from Maine into New Brunswick and appears to be spreading across the United States.
Dr. Nancy Murphy, a medical director at the IWK Regional Poison Centre in Halifax said she saw firsthand what the psychoactive drug can do when a patient came into a local emergency room in March.
"An aggressive behaviour and a deep-seated paranoia, and sometimes the violent behaviour can be inflicted upon others, or even on themselves," she told CTV Atlantic.
A man who committed a zombie like cannibal attack on a homeless man in Miami last week was under the influence of 'bath salts'.
The heightened mental effect sets this synthetic drug apart from ecstasy and cocaine, and the main compound in bath salts, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone or MDPV, has a similar structure to amphetamines.
Officials say they have been seeing two to three cases of bath salts abuse each week and it has been steadily rising.
"Because organized crime wasn't able to profit as easily from bath salts because of its accessibility, they were keeping it out of the urban centres, and that's why it remains primarily a rural drug," said Greg Purvis, the director of Addiction Services.