Bath Salts: The most dangerous drug?

With more than 30 years experience in hospital emergency rooms, Dr. James Wright ranks "Bath Salts" as one of the most dangerous drugs he's ever seen.

"On a scale of one to ten, I give them a ten," said Dr. Wright.

Dr. Wright works as the co-director of Emergency Medicine at McLeod Loris Seacoast. He is also a teaching assistant for Coastal Carolina University's Department of Biology.

Bath salts have come back into the public eye after a man was shot for eating a man's face in Miami on Saturday.

Police suspect Rudy Eugene, 31, was under the influence of bath salts when he ate 80 percent of 65-year-old Ronald Poppo's face.

The bath salts suspected in the Miami attack are illegal in South Carolina.

These bath salts are not the bath salts some put in their tub that are purchased at local retail stores. These are chemical compounds that are made in a lab and sold to get people high.

Bath salts are usually ingested by sniffing or snorting. They can also be taken orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins.

"The bath salts are similar compounds to a drug called cathinone, a plant that is actively chewed in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa," said Dr. Wright. "The new substitutions chemical on that cathinone molecule are what resulted in bath salts."

Last October, the state banned the chemicals that make bath salts, saying it was necessary to stop an imminent threat to public safety.

A threat that Dr. Wright has seen first hand.

"They've had to be restrained with general asthenia. There weren't enough people to restrain them and sedatives didn't work very well. This is the same kind of activity we used to see with PCP or Angel Dust."

The chemical agents in bath salts stimulate the brain to high levels with some users' body temperature increasing to 107 degrees.

That stimulation leads to hallucinations and extreme behavior.

"In higher doses or if you take it for a longer period of time. It can induce psychosis," says Wright.

Dr. Wright added when bath salt users do get to that psychosis state, 85 percent will recover within 30 days, but the other 15 percent will suffer from some permanent psychosis for the rest of their lives.