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Imagine a patient at the emergency room so violent and psychotic that it takes a handful of medical staff to hold them down. This is exactly the scene that Dr. Jeffrey J. Narmi repeatedly witnessed this spring at the Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, PA. These patients had taken a powerful new stimulant drug with the harmless sounding misnomer of "bath salts". According to Dr. Narmi, several of these patients were held overnight and were subsequently transferred to the psych ward because they were "completely disconnected from reality and in a very bad place".

Earlier this year, I wrote about bath salts and the alarming cases of two young people who injured themselves after taking the stimulant. Unfortunately, one of those young people died at the age of 21 after slitting his own throat and shooting himself while under the influence of bath salts. According to scientists, the salts cost about $30 and users typically ingest the product, which gives them a feeling of euphoria. In addition, the stimulants can cause hallucinations, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts. Many experts argue that the effects are more damaging than those caused by meth. The designer drugs are made from a blend of complex chemicals and several states have already banned the products from store shelves, including most of the South and Midwest regions of of the U.S.

While the drug just showed up in the U.S. last year, the number of people consuming bath salts is on the rise. In fact, poison control centers received 3,470 calls from January to June–up from 303 total calls in 2010. The health effects of consuming bath salts cannot be underestimated: emergency room doctors describe body temperatures of 107 degrees, dangerously elevated blood pressure and heart rate, people so agitated that their muscles break down, and body chemicals released that lead to kidney failure. In addition, doctors also report that family members have witnessed ongoing paranoia in bath salt users who took the drugs months prior and have since stopped use.

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