Gov. Jack Markell announced at a news conference last Friday that Delaware has banned “bath salts,” making them illegal in the state. The bath salts have been added to Delaware’s Schedule I of Controlled Substances, following a recommendation by the Controlled Substances Advisory Committee.
I was confused, to say the least, and started wondering about the erratic behavior my grandmother would sometimes display, and mentally began tying together the connection between that and the bath salts that were often in her bathroom. Were the bath salts behind her incessant need to bake cookies? Was my grandmother a secret bath salt junkie?
A little more research led to a pretty intense education for me. No, these aren’t your grandmother’s bath salts. These are dangerous stimulants that had “bath salts” written on the container, as well as “Do not ingest” warnings. Apparently, those two elements on the packaging were enough to allow companies to sell these drugs in convenient stores and tobacco outlets.
But make no mistake. These are dangerous drugs.
Sold under names like “Ivory Wave,” “Red Dove,” “Blue Silk” and “White Lightning,” these drugs often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals, such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone and others that I could never pronounce without help, according to Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“Unfortunately, ‘bath salts’ have already been linked to an alarming number of ER visits across the country,” said Volkow. “Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers have indicated that ingesting or snorting ‘bath salts’ containing synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.”
I knew nothing about this drug. When I asked about it around the office, the only one who knew anything was Bob Bertram, our art director. Bob said that he had read about this in the past a little bit, and that he knew it was a problem in Ocean City.
I called Fenwick Island Police Chief William Boyden, whose town borders Ocean City. Boyden was well aware of “bath salts,” but was relieved to report that his officers have not had problems with it in the town.
“It’s a bad item,” said Boyden. “I’m glad to see the governor push through the emergency order to ban it.”
Boyden said he had also received information from the DEA on the drug and that the federal government also was banning the “bath salts.” That goes into effect on Oct. 11.
A person in the public relations department at Beebe said they have run into “bath salts” in the emergency room several times, and that it’s extremely hard for the doctors to treat patients for it because the chemical compounds are so different from product to product.
I then called the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center and spoke with Joe Thomas, who said they have not had problems with it as of this time, and that was reiterated by John Watson, who is the EMS chief in Millville. But Watson said they have received information on the drug.
So, what do they do if they have to respond?
“There’s really nothing we can do except treat the symptoms,” said Watson. He also said it’s extremely hard to identify “bath salts” as the problem with a patient unless they specifically tell you that is what they have taken.
Basically, I came to the conclusion that the “bath salts” problem is not one that has really struck our little community here. That’s the good news. The bad news is that nearly all of the experts I talked with spoke of “bath salts” with a little fear in their voices. They are relieved that it is not an epidemic here, but they know and respect the consequences if it does.
Parents, please keep an eye on your kids. All of the experts I spoke with also brought up the prescription drug problem in the area, which is a dire situation. If anything, that is getting worse.
Bath salts. Really?