Governor LePage and the Commissioner of Public Safety John Morris are warning Maine communities about the serious and potentially lethal side effects in the usage of bath salts. Bath salts, a synthetic drug often used as a hallucinogenic, were largely unknown a year ago. Due to availability and popularity the drug has seen an alarming increase in usage this year resulting in a surge of emergency room visits by users who overdosed on the chemicals.
In a July 2011 situation report by the National Drug Intelligence Center, experts outline the distribution and abuse of bath salts will increase in the United States in the near term. Poison control centers and medical professionals around the country are increasingly reporting patients suffering adverse physical effects associated with the abuse of these drugs.
The Governor said Monday, "I recently read the situation report by the National Drug Intelligence Center and am deeply troubled with the increase in distribution and abuse throughout the United States. I am very concerned that with schools opening soon these drugs have the potential of finding their way into the classrooms."
Bath salts can be addictive and produce severe paranoia, violent or self-destructive behavior, suicide, high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. The effects can last several hours, depending on the dose and the method of ingestion. The products have been sold under several names, including Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Pure Ivory, Whack, Crush, Purple Rain, Salt, and Ocean Burst.
Commissioner Morris said, "In my law enforcement career, I have never seen a drug become a near epidemic so quickly. Bath salts have devastating consequences for those that abuse it and are likely to have contributed to, at least, one death in Maine, so far. There is a real danger that these drugs could get into the hands of Maine's school children and I have asked the Education Commissioner Steve Bowen to make sure school administrators and nurses know the warning signs, as school reopens soon."
In July 2011, Maine enacted emergency legislation to make it illegal to possess or sell any of the 21 different hallucinogenic drugs or stimulants that are sold and marketed as "bath salts." Other states have passed similar bills and pending Federal legislation would ban at least two "bath salts" chemicals.
The Maine Office of Substance Abuse under the Maine Department of Health and Human Services press citizens to stay informed on the dangers and effects of bath salts. A fact sheet has been published for the public and is available on www.maine.gov/dhhs/osa/ (click on "OSA Bath Salts Fact Sheet.)