When I started this focus on bath salts, almost all the information I had came directly from news stories, or other second hand sources. I began asking around for personal stories. I did not talk to anyone who had actually done the drug, but I did get a lot of personal experience from a friend whose son had taken the drug several times.
My friend’s son was no newcomer to the drug life, and he would take whatever he could get his hands on. His drug of choice was heroin, and he often mixed the opiate with cocaine or meth. My friend has seen her son under the influence of various substances, and she has witnessed his erratic behavior for years. But, she hates bath salts worse than any of them.
When her son first discovered bath salts, he decided to give them a try. (As many of us would have also done while still immersed in active addiction.) Almost immediately he was twitching and sweating, while he became increasingly paranoid. He became fixated on finding something in his bedroom to the point he was unable to control himself and the fixation. He tore his room apart, removing all the dresser drawers and searching all the drawers over and over again. He ended up splitting open the mattress and box spring, digging around inside looking for this item. His room was completely destroyed. He did not sleep for the next three nights.
Another time, her son became obsessed with electrical cords of all types: extension cords, USB cords, phone cords, phone chargers, and even the cords plugging the television into the wall. He went frantically around the house, pulling out all the cords he could find. They were on a big pile in the living room floor when my friend asked her son what he was doing. He told her he did not know.
On another incident, she recalls him crawling out of his skin. He paced around the house, peeking out the windows every five minutes, convinced the cops were looking for him. He picked his face until it was one big scab. The paranoia of the cops got more and more intense, so my friend decided to take him to a hotel, thinking he would be more comfortable there. The entire ride, he looked out the window, convinced the cops were following them. When they got to the hotel, the paranoia just got worse. He stayed up all night, searching the room for the “bugs” the cops had planted. When my friend woke in the morning, all the appliances had been pulled away from the walls; all the items in the kitchenette were pulled out and laid on the floor. There was not a piece of the room that had been left untouched.
The most severe incident her son had with bath salts occurred while he was living on the streets. He had very little money, so he bought bath salts. She thinks that he had become so susceptible to the drugs effects, and he immediately went into a psychotic episode. He stood out as the only white person in a gang-infested Latino area, eyes wide and crazed. He remembers mothers pulling their kids into the house when they saw him. He thought the cops had him surrounded, trying to Taser him, so he called 911. When help arrived, they took him to the hospital. It took a week to get him stabilized. The nurse told my friend her son was one of the lucky ones. The nurse had seen patients permanently damaged by bath salts; to the point they would never be able to live on their own again.
My friend asked her son why he would do it again when he had already suffered so much each time he took them. He told her he did not want to take them, and he had sworn he would never do them again. But something always changed to make him think it would be okay…just one more time. I have heard this story over and over again.
He is in treatment right now. We are all praying for him.
My friend also wanted to reiterate that bath salts and spice are not the same thing. I will actually delve into Spice a little tomorrow, explaining the difference in these synthetic drugs. These drugs are often lumped together in news stories, and even in some legislation. It is important for people to understand that these drugs are not the same. Spice is synthetic marijuana. Bath salts are more like synthetic meth, and they can easily cause hallucinations and psychosis. The danger of thinking the two are the same comes when one kid sees a friend on Spice, and then purchase bath salts, thinking it is the same. It is very, very different.