DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas health officials are concerned about a currently legal chemical that has begun surfacing in stores and online in the form of bath salts. Some users have ended up in the emergency room after snorting or smoking it.
The North Texas Poison Center at Parkland Memorial Hospital said it began receiving calls about certain bath salts in September.
According to the Center’s manager, Melody Gardner, they are being sold under the name Cloud 9, White Knight, White Ivory, Purple Wave and Ocean Burst. A spokesman with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said the dominant active ingredient found in them is mephedrone, which is unscheduled in the U.S. and chemically similar to an amphetamine.
Parents may not be aware that these bath salts are being used to get high. However, Gardner said “there’s no reports of deaths in the Texas Poison Center Network.”
But she added that a number of hospital doctors and nurses have called asking for help with patients who have displayed some severe symptoms after using the substance. These symptoms include an increased heartbeat, hallucinations, feelings of paranoia and agitation.
Gardner said one call concerned a patient who was experiencing severe muscle weakness so much so that he couldn’t stand up on his own.
“Based upon the chemical structure, to the best that we know it’s going to act very similar to an amphetamine,” said Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Parkland Hospital.
Kleinschmidt calls this new, developing trend a “legal high” because the ingredients are not banned.
Law enforcement agencies contacted by CBS 11 News said they have not had any complaints about bath salts, but officials say users would most likely not notify police.
“This is very new stuff. The word’s just getting out and people are just really beginning to experiment,” Kleinschmidt said.
The Executive Director of the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse is concerned, especially after the rise in popularity of K2 and salvia, both herbs sold as incense that contain active and legal chemical ingredients that cause the user to get high or hallucinate.
“Parents need to be on the lookout for all kinds of substances. It’s important that they talk to their children regularly,” she said. “We can’t just have one drug prevention message in our children’s lives. It has to be on-going.”
Many countries – including Great Britain, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Poland and China – have already outlawed or are regulating the use and sale of mephedrone. China was the most recent country to add its name to that list, as it issued its ban in September.
Earlier this year, some British news publications began a series of reports concerning the deaths or severe health complications of individuals who used mephedrone salts for months as a way to either lose weight or get high.