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Authorities Raise Alarm About New "Designer Drug"

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist Teens across the country are turning to a new designer drug, known as "bath salts," which contain a dangerous stimulant known as mephedrone, to get high. is reporting that the name "bath salts" sounds harmless, but in reality, the small packets costing between $20 and $30 contain a synthetic drug known as mephedrone of MDPV. The salts are being snorted, smoked or ingested by teens who experience a high similar to the drug ecstasy.  "It's an amphetamine," explained CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. "They're marketed as bath salts and you can find them online or in stores under names like Zoom 2 or Aura." Because the drug is a central nervous system stimulant, it will increase blood pressure and heart rate, as well as cause chest pain, heart attacks or strokes. "And those are just the physical symptoms," Dr. Ashton said. "Some psychological (symptoms include) delusions, paranoia, psychosis. They're highly addictive, very dangerous." Thus far, the drug has been flying under the radar of law enforcement, but as the drug's popularity surges, an increasing number of incidents of people seeking medical attention for toxic reactions has caught their attention.  For instance, in just the first month of 2011, Poison Control Centers in 33 states have received a total of 248 reports about the drug.  Last year, there were only 236 cases reported for the entire year. Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director at the Florida Poison Control Center in Tampa, said the state has had 66 cases since August, with 45 of them occurring in 2011. The cases involved ingestion of the drug and reactions such as nausea, vomiting, agitation and worse. "They'll go on to become aggressive or violent behavior," Lewis-Younger told WESH-TV. "There's psychotic behavior, seizures, high blood pressure. Many people have had to be admitted to intensive care units. Some people have even continued to have hallucinations." Admission to psychiatric units is also not uncommon, she said. "This isn't something to play with. This is not a recreational drug. These things are dangerous," Lewis-Younger said.   The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has labeled "bath salts" a drug of concern and legislation is pending to make them controlled substances. One of the problems the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is having in regard to controlling the drug is that most "bath salts" list the usual blend of water softening agents such as Epsom salts and sodium and naturally occurring trace elements and minerals. "(The last part) sounds like your typical bath salt, but the problem is with the 'proprietary ingredients,' where they're not disclosing exactly what's in there, and that's where the illicit drug is thought to be found," Shireen Banerji, the clinical toxicology coordinator for Denver Health, told 7NEWS. DEA spokesman Mike Turner told 7NEWS that unless they can connect mephedrone to the bath salts, the sale of these salts isn't illegal. "Just because it's not illegal doesn't mean it's safe," Turner said. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®