News outlets went into a frenzy this week over the story of a Florida man who stripped and ate another man's face in broad daylight. His freaky behavior reportedly was caused by a new drug called "bath salts." Jezebel reports that according to users of the not-so-new drug, "bath salts" are definitely not simply epsom salts. Instead, the drug produces an effect similar to that produced by the drug Ecstasy, and is less harmful. Still, the effects seem to be anything but benign.
"Bath salts" (known alternately as "plant food" or "meow meow") are sold in powder form that can be eaten, snorted, smoked, or injected. The street names don't describe one specific drug, but rather could refer to either mephedrone (a synthetic stimulant) or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (known as MDPV, a stimulant and psychoactive drug). Each of these purports to produce effects similar to the euphoria of MDMA (Ecstasy) and the alertness of cocaine or amphetamines. They are not hallucinogens. Although the drugs were first developed in 1929 and 1969 respectively, they didn't become popular for recreational use until around 2004, and didn't come to mainstream attention until 2011, so little is known about long-term use. However, a recent study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that the designer drugs have a similar affect on the brain as Ecstasy, but without the link to long-term depletion of serotonin that's associated with MDMA. So if scientific studies show that bath salts are less harmful to the brain than MDMA, why are people seemingly flipping the f—k out?
In the past year, the media has reported on several incidences of bizarre, violent, and disturbing behavior, attributing these psychotic episodes to bath salts. (A cross-dressing goat killer, a priest-stabber, a man who believed he was being chased by electricity, a festive trespasser, a man who believed his 5-year-old was "possessed," etc.) Most recently—and most shockingly—is the story of Miami man Rudy Eugene who stripped naked in public and then attacked a homeless man, eating part of his face. It has been widely reported that Eugene was high on bath salts. But that's just a theory by law enforcement officials.
Read more at Jezebel.