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"Bath Salts" deadly new drug craze

February 15, 2011|By Clifton French (cfrench@wsbt.com)

LAPORTE -- A LaPorte man who overdosed on something called "Bath Salts" on Sunday, was still in intensive care on Tuesday.

The substance sold as bath salts is really a synthetic cocaine or meth and it's being sold in convenience stores and gas stations and right now, it's not illegal. 

Chris Hix, 36, of LaPorte snorted just a little bit.  His girlfriend says that was enough to stop his heart.

"They had to revive him in the ambulance," Linda Bennett, Hix's long-time girlfriend said, "He's up in ICU right now, he's fighting for his life."

Bennett said Hix has had a problem with drugs, but was on the road to recovery when he heard about the "bath salts."  She said Chris was curious and bought the blue packaged capsule from a gas station for $20. 

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"They need to pass a law to get rid of this stuff, this black magic is worse than Coke or anything else," Bennett said.

The drug contains MDPV and Mephedrone, doctors say combining those two substances is like combining LSD and Ecstasy.

"This is a powder, man-made, it's synthetic, boy does it sock a punch and it's not a high, it's a hallucinogen, it's also long lasting which means the effects last for hours to days," Dr. Mark Lavallee of Memorial Hospital Health Systems, said.

Director of Indiana Poison Center, James Mowry said the substance is as addictive as meth with the same characteristics, but also similar to PCP.

Mowry said the drug causes increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, paranoia and delusions. 

The drug is sold under many names including "White Lightening" and "Blue Magic."

It can be snorted, smoked, taken orally and even injected.

Statewide, Indiana Poison Control has had fewer than 10 calls about the bath salts, but the problem is growing.  In the entire year of 2010, there were 291 cases reported across the United States so far in 2011, there have been nearly 350 cases.

Officials with the South Bend Police Department and St. Joseph County Health Department said they had not heard of the drug, but both agencies agreed that if it's being used nearby, it's also being used here.  They said it's only a matter of time before there is an incident in the immediate area.

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