A new, disturbing dramatization of a sailor ingesting "bath salts" and then having violent hallucinations is the latest salvo in the Navy's ongoing fight against synthetic drugs.
The public service announcement, published online in December, puts the viewer in the shoes of a young sailor who snorts bath salts he received in the mail. A short time later the sailor vomits, but it isn't until he meets his girlfriend for bowling that hallucinations strike.
Suddenly the girl appears demonic to the sailor and he assaults her. Later, the sailor's roommate also turns into a demon before the sailor apparently collapses. Woken in restraints as he's being brought to the hospital, the sailor groans in agony as medical professionals attempt to treat him. The video then shows Lt. George Loeffler, a Psychiatry Resident at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, as he describes the dangers of the drugs.
"When people are using bath salts, they're not their normal selves," he says. "They're angrier. They're erratic. They're violent and they're unpredictable…. People will start seeing things that aren't there, believing things that aren't true."
Loeffler said that the most disturbing thing about bath salts is that the effects of paranoia can last days or even weeks after the drugs have left the user's system.
Bath salts, which were the subject of an ABC News' "20/20? investigation in June 2011, are chemicals meant to mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine that at the time could be easily and legally sold to anyone - including minors - as long as the warning labels said they were not meant for human consumption. The chemicals have nothing to do with bathing products.
Then in September 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it was implementing an emergency ban on the narcotics to "protect the public from the imminent hazard" caused by bath salts.
Part of the "20/20? investigation described the experience of BMX rider Dickie Sanders who ingested bath salts called Cloud Nine in 2010.
According to his parents, after taking the drug Sanders was convinced there were dozens of police cars and helicopters just outside the home, even though there were none. Then, suddenly, he grabbed a knife and sliced at his throat from ear to ear. He survived the knife wound and told his mother he had had enough.
"He actually looked at me and said, 'I can't handle what this drug has done to me. I'm never going to touch anything again,'" Julie Sanders said.
But hours later and without warning, Sanders had another psychotic episode and took his own life with a rifle.
The U.S. Navy has been battling the use of bath salts and other synthetic drugs by its sailors and Navy Medicine has set up a webpage specifically to educate sailors and the public about the potentially disastrous health risks involved.
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