Weather Updates

Hallucination-inducing bath salts face scrutiny

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

FULTON, Miss. — When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven’t been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders labeled as bath salts.

The effects of the powders are as powerful as abusing methamphetamine, according to some law enforcement agents. Authorities and poison control centers say the bath salts are an emerging menace in several U.S. states, and some officials are trying to ban their sale.

From the Deep South to California, emergency calls are being reported after exposure to the stimulants the powders often contain: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.

Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, the chemicals can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. The chemicals are in bath salts and even plant foods that are sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet. A small packet costs as little as $20.

Lawmakers in Mississippi and Kentucky are considering banning the sale of the powders. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state’s poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

Brown said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote to a Mississippi newspaper urging people to stay away from the bath salts.

“I couldn’t tell you why I did it,” Brown said, pointing to his scars. “The psychological effects are still there.”

The stimulants aren’t regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Gary Boggs, an executive assistant at the DEA, said it could take years to restrict these designer chemicals.


© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.