‘Zombie’ Drug Poses Serious Health Risk

Apparently, the zombie apocalypse has started. At least, that was the word from my teenage son. If you have a teenager in the house, or you read the news, you likely heard about the 31-year-old man in Miami who chewed the face off of a homeless man and was fatally shot by police when he wouldn’t stop his attack. Authorities are speculating that the attacker was high on bath salts. This isn’t the stuff you soak with in the bathtub; bath salts are a relatively new synthetic drug and are still legal in many states.

According to CNN Health, “Bath salts contain amphetamine-like chemicals such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and pyrovalerone. The Drug Enforcement Administration refers them to as a “designer drug of the phenethylamine class.” Other drugs in this class include amphetamines, mescaline and ephedrine. MDPV comes in a powdered form that is inhaled, swallowed, smoked or shot into a vein.

MDPV’s effects include feelings of empathy, stimulation, alertness, euphoria, sensory awareness and hallucinations. Other reported effects include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and sweating. According to the DEA, MDPV has been reported to cause intense panic attacks, psychosis and a strong desire to use the drug again.

Poison centers first raised the alarm about bath salts in December 2010, after the centers started receiving calls about people having serious reactions to the chemicals. In all of 2010, poison centers received 304 calls about exposures to bath salts. That number rose dramatically in 2011, when poison centers received 6,138 calls about the substance.  Bath salts are considered highly addictive, and worst of all, no one knows the long-term effect on the brain.

Bath salts have been banned in 38 states, but because they are not marketed for human consumption, they have not been labeled illegal. The dangers of this new designer drug are just beginning to grab national attention. If one horrible zombie-like attack highlights the danger of this drug, then that’s at least some sort of a silver lining from such a tragic story. 

Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.


  1. Will someone please set us all straight and remind us why “drugs are a victimless crime.” 

    I mean seriously there has to be some mutant out there who uses “bath salts” to derive some relief from some real or imagined condition. Who are we to deprive anyone of their “medication?”

    There have to be countless souls who can “totally handle” what ever mental/physical state that they achieve bath salts puts them in and are merely exercising their inalienable rights to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    How far are we willing to fall?