It’s the 21st century, but we seem to be in the midst of an epidemic of cannibalism.
It began with the Japanese man who served his cooked genitals to paid diners. Then, it was the naked man who gobbled up the face of a homeless man on a Miami causeway. Next came news of an Iranian professor who cut and ate his wife’s lips. Then it was the college student in Maryland who murdered, dismembered, and ate the heart and brain of his roommate.
Rudy Eugene, the Miami cannibal, had seemingly superhuman strength and eventually was shot dead by the first police officer who arrived on the scene. The president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Armando Aguilar believes Eugene was on a new street drug called “bath salts.” Emergency room doctors at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital said they have seen a major increase in cases linked to the new drug. Dr. Paul Adams, of the hospital’s Emergency room, said in many of the cases, the person’s temperature has risen to an extremely high level and they become very aggressive. Some have used their jaws as a weapon during attacks. The patients were in a state of delirium and “Extremely strong, I took care of a 150 pound individual who you would have thought he was 250 pounds. It took six security officers to restrain the individual.”
Since then two further incidents have been linked to “bath salts.”
The first occurred on June 2, 2012, when a snarling homeless man, Brandon De Leon, threatened to eat two officers, echoing the Miami attack.
Police were forced to fit 21-year-old De Leon with a Hannibal Lecter-style mask after he was arrested for disturbing the peace in North Miami Beach. When put in a police cruiser De Leon slammed his head against the plexiglass divider and shouted at officers, “I’m going to eat you,” NBC Miami reported. He then growled, gnashed his teeth and tried to bite the hand of an officer attempting to treat his head wounds. Miami police said they believe he was on a cocktail of drugs, including “bath salts” called Cloud Nine.
If the people on “bath salts” seem more than addicts but demonic to you, you will find it interesting that Freddy Sharp, a former bath-salts addict, describes the drug’s effect as “evil.”
As recounted by CNN’s Ashley Hayes, June 4, 2012, Sharp had to be strapped by paramedics onto a gurney and restrained, yet he’s singing, making faces and twitching. He told CNN’s Don Lemon that he was hallucinating about being in a mental hospital and being possessed by Jason Voorhees, the character from the “Friday the 13th” movies:
“I’d never experienced anything like that. You feel like you’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof, and you actually do not feel any pain. It really actually scared me pretty bad. I just felt all kinds of crazy. It felt so evil. It felt like the darkest, evilest thing imaginable.”
Sharp said he never felt the urge to “eat anybody’s flesh” while under the influence of bath salts. But he said his overdose was a turning point and described the experience as “Fear. Darkness. It felt like impending doom was coming down on me … I felt like I was about to bust loose and actually hurt somebody. I felt like if I lost that control, anything could happen.”
He said the experience was the worst of his life: “it will destroy your life. It will destroy your family. It will destroy everything.” And coming off the drug was also difficult, quite aside from the withdrawal. He said “whenever it comes out of you, you can smell it in your hair–unclean, nasty, unkempt, chemically-type smell. It’s so nasty.”
See Sharp for yourself in this CNN video. He looked like he needed an exorcist!
So what are “bath salts”?
To begin, they are not the same substance used to scent your bathwater. Those bath salts are Epsom salts. The evil “bath salts” contain amphetamine-like chemicals such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and are sold as “cocaine substitutes” or “synthetic LSD.” Its effects include paranoia, hallucinations, convulsions and psychotic episodes.
I compiled the following from an article by Matt McMillen for WebMD. The article is in the form of an interview McMillen conducted with Zane Horowitz, MD, an emergency room physician and medical director of the Oregon Poison Center.
What are “bath salts”?: “Bath salts” are a synthetic or “designer” drug made from three chemicals — the synthetic stimulants mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone. Newer pyrovalerone derivatives are being made by illegal street chemists. Nobody really knows what goes into the making of “bath salts” because there is no way to test for these substances. People are making this drug out of household products, stuff that’s in their kitchens.
Why are they called bath salts?: By marketing the synthetic drug as bath salts and labeling them “not for human consumption,” the makers have been able to avoid them being identified as illegal.
Street names for “bath salts”: Some examples are Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky, Bliss. I found these (see below) by doing a Google search. Many of them are for sale online.
How are “bath salts” taken?: The people who take them are very creative. They snort it, shoot it, mix it with food and drink.
What do you experience when you take “bath salts”?: It’s a very scary stimulant that induces high blood pressure, increased pulse, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, chest pain, and suicidality that persists even after the stimulatory effects of the drugs have worn off. “Bath salts” have sparked thousands of calls to poison centers across the U.S. over the last year. 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.
Are “bath salts” addictive?: We don’t know, because we have not had enough long-term experience with it. Acute toxicity is the main problem. But many stimulants do cause a craving.
Are “bath salts” illegal?: No. They are sold in mini-marts and smoke shops as Ivory Wave, Bolivian Bath, and other names. The people who make “bath salts” have skirted the laws that make these types of things illegal. While several states have banned their sale, ultimately it will have to be a federal law that labels these as a schedule 1 drug, which means it has no medicinal value but a high potential for abuse, and declare them illegal.
What is the federal government doing or not doing about it?: In October 2011, citing an “imminent threat to public safety,” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made illegal the possession and sale of the three chemicals commonly used to make bath salts. The ban is effective for at least a year, during which time, the agency will decide whether a permanent ban is warranted. It’s most likely that the DEA will make permanent the illegal possession and sale of the chemicals that are used to make “bath salts”. But cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are also illegal, and they are all still out there.
Why “bath salts” are an especially terrible drug: The drug combines into one the effects of methamphetamine (paranoia and aggressiveness), LSD (hallucinations), and PCP (extreme paranoia), resulting in unpredictable effects on human behavior [such as cannibalism!] It can take five or six grown men to restrain a bath salts user. It’s PCP on crack. Last year in Panama City, Florida, police saw two violent incidents linked to use of bath salts. In one, a woman allegedly tried to behead her 71-year-old mother; in the second, a man on bath salts used his teeth to tear up the back seat of a patrol car.
And cases are on the rise.