Zombies, psychopaths and bath salts ... oh my

Nuclear fallout, alien spores from outer space, a religious catastrophe, a man-made virus, the Bubonic plague, all have been blamed at some point over the years for the various Hollywood versions of the (forthcoming) Zombie Apocalypse, from George Romero’s 1968 classic, “Night of the Living Dead” to 2009’s “Zombieland.”

Who would’ve guessed the real thing would turn up in the form of psychotic, face-eating “bath salters.”

Now, before I go any further with this (and I will, trust me), the synthetic drugs collectively known as “bath salts” are not, in fact, related to your everyday, normal bath salts. You know, the stuff you actually use in the bathtub?

If I had a dollar for every person that’s inquired as to the how and why bath salts – the cosmetic kind – turn your average drug addict into a raving lunatic ... well ... let’s just say I could retire early. Bath salts – the drug – are not (and I repeat not) the same as epsom salts or any other kind of bathing accessory. And the term bath salts, in regards to the latest drug epidemic to sweep the nation, is only one of many names conjured up by the synthetic substance’s creators; others include plant food or research chemicals.

Because your local gas station or head shop is where you go to buy bath salts, plant food or ... mmm ... research chemicals, right?

You see, that’s where people are finding these designer drugs (and the Internet, of course), and a little research on the subject proves one thing for sure: these drugs are on their way – or already – here in Chenango County. Incidents involving bath salts (or plant food ... or research chemicals) are on the rise outside our borders, from Syracuse to Utica, Binghamton to Ithaca and beyond.



This ... garbage ... is all around us. And it’s a very real threat that we’ll be facing in the weeks, months and years to come.

You can quote me on that.

Moving on, I’m having a lot of trouble understanding why anyone in their right mind would want to try the stuff in the first place. Your heart begins to race (some people’s hearts are literally bursting from the strain); your body temperature soars to 103 degrees or so (bath salters in straight jackets actually begin to cook); and many times, those ingesting the substance end up naked, raving uncontrollably and – of course – chewing on other people’s faces.

Because all that sounds like such a good time, don’t you think?

And yes, that’s sarcasm. And yes, it’s intentional.

Our problem, as I see it, is that we have far too many thrill seekers, hopelessly addicted drug abusers and ... well ... just plain idiots here in Chenango County. That’s not to say other areas don’t have the same issues but, in all seriousness, anyone with half a brain knows – beyond any shadow of a doubt – that we’ve got quite a problem here.

And that’s the real issue, isn’t it? They (bath salts) are here, they’re deadly and they’re not going anywhere. Not unless this community pulls together and decides to do some serious house cleaning.

Last week, I was lucky enough to get an invite to a Norwich City Police Department training seminar focused on synthetic drugs such as bath salts and, let me tell you, it was a real eye-opener. And the videos that were played? Disturbing, to say the least. As for the youngsters who are out there experimenting with these synthetic drugs, here are a couple of excerpts for you:

“The experience is definitely rolling off but I am still well in it. I feel a mix of the euphoria and a developing come-down feeling, hollowness in the gut ... I’m developing muscle tension in my back from typing and I’m beginning to grind and clench my teeth. The roof of my mouth is tight and I’m trembling slightly.”

Sounds like a whole lot of fun, right? And then there’s this guy:

“... smoking this stuff, I tell you it was like doing a totally different drug, I’d take a hit and get an insane feeling of euphoria for I think about 20 minutes to half an hour. I became addicted straight away ... and it was so easy to smoke far too much. I thought I was going to have a heart attack because my heart was beating faster than it ever had done in my life for like six hours or something and I could feel my heart getting tired and you would think that would of put me off doing any more, but I ended up smoking more just a couple of hours after that.”

Both of these quotes were found on the controversial Erowid.org website, one that parents out there should be extremely wary of. Despite being described as a non-profit educational organization, one law enforcement official informed me that he believed Erowid to be a website created by drug addicts ... for drug addicts. So keep a close eye on your children and their Internet use and history.

With that said, let us hope that the bath salts epidemic passes us by; let’s hope we can avoid our very own synthetic drug-induced Zombie Apocalypse. Let’s hope our children (and the rest of the community, for that matter) are wise enough to – for lack of a better phrase – just say no when it comes to bath salts. Let’s hope our area gas stations have the sense not to offer them. Because the reality is simple ... hope may be all we have.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian

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