Experts say addiction to bath salts a real, growing problem -, GA News Weather & Sports

Experts say addiction to bath salts a real, growing problem

By Andrew Douglas - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Last summer, Mid-South lawmakers banned the sale of fake pot, a potpourri that some people were smoking to get high.  Now there are new variations of even harder drugs that parents are struggling to keep up with.

‘Mike,' a 16-year-old Shelby County resident whose identify we've agreed to conceal, said in a recent interview he was once addicted to bath salts.

"I was actually spending every cent I could find on this stuff," he said. "I tried it, and after the first time, it all went down hill.  I was, like, addicted from that time on.  I just couldn't stop."

Substance abuse experts say some types of bath salts are the equivalent of synthetic cocaine.  The salts, sold in quantities about the size of a tea bag, mimic the effects of cocaine when ingested.

"It's like you're so used to the feeling you don't even want to be sober anymore," Mike said. "You just want to go out and get more.  It's not about fun anymore.  You just can't live without it."

The bath salts are sold by names like Charge, White Knight and Sky Vanilla.  On each is a clear label stating they are not for human consumption. But that didn't matter to Mike, who needed professional help to stop consuming them after a month of abuse.

"I would go through, like, a bag a night," he said.

The salts, which are sold online and at stores all over the Mid-South, were not part of the ban on fake pot passed by lawmakers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi last summer.  The Action News 5 Investigators found packets at a store near the University of Memphis, and sources say they are available for purchase at two other stores, including one on Sycamore View.

Lou Martin, a licensed counselor at Memphis' Christian Psychological Center, says misuse of the salts by teens is spreading.

"We need to do something in our community to bring to parents' attention to stop it and to get it banned," Martin said. ‘'They're having the same effects as the illegal drugs are physically and psychologically with the addiction and withdrawals."

Martin believes parents need to pay attention, and not expect a drug test to tell confirm their children are using bath salts to get high.

"If we don't get the word out and get a handle on it, I can see where it can become somewhat of an epidemic," she said.

Mike, whose addiction affected his relationships with family and friends, is now warning others to keep away.

"It took my friend three months to quit," he said. "I have a friend right now, she still can't even quit. It's very addictive."

State laws banning items like bath salts are difficult to enforce.  Within days of banning fake pot last summer, new, slightly altered products were on the market, which made out of different chemicals so they could get around the law.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced a ban on bath salts in his state earlier this month. Meanwhile, Tennessee Senator Reginald Tate, who was behind his state's ban on fake pot said there is currently no new legislation on synthetic cocaine in Tennessee.

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