Yes, bath salts are well-publicized as a horrible drug. After all, it was the first substance to be blamed by Miami authorities after a naked man chewed up a homeless man’s face last May. (The perpetrator, Rudy Eugene, turned out not to have any of the synthetic drug in his system.) But now, the U.S. Navy, which has been battling a problem with the designer drug, has launched its own crusade aimed at curbing its use among sailors. Their dramatic new anti-drug video is filled with all the trappings of a horror film — or a horrible dream: zombie-like demons, bare-knuckled assault and late-night bowling are all invoked to show exactly how bad the synthetic drug can be. The campaign’s tagline says, “Bath salts: It’s not a fad…It’s a nightmare.”
Set to a dubstep soundtrack, the public service announcement shows a sailor experiencing the dark reality of bath salt use. After taking a dose of the drug, he immediately vomits — and that’s probably the best and things go down hill from there, including assault, battery and, apparently living in an episode of Supernatural. The video ends with the soldier tied down to a hospital bed as doctors try to treat him.
In the PSA, Lt. George Loeffler, a Psychiatry Resident at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, 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.” He adds, “I would say not just as the naval officer, but as your doctor, bath salts will not only jack up your family and your career, it will jack up your mind and body too.”
The Navy has been combating the influence of bath salts since at least 2010, and last March they instituted a drug-testing program for sailors to screen for the synthetic compounds. In just three months last year, the Pacific Fleet noted that 47 sailors tested positive for the drugs, with 10 being discharged.
Bath salts, which have nothing to do with the actual soothing bath additives, are a designer drug, composed of chemicals meant to mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine. The synthetic drugs came to the public’s attention after the Miami face-eating attack last year, though Eugene actually smoked marijuana, not bath salts. The DEA banned bath salts in 2011 by designating three synthetic chemicals used to make bath salts as controlled substances. Additionally, in 2012, President Obama signed a bill to ban several types of synthetic drugs, including synthetic marijuana and the now-infamous bath salts. The bill was the first ban to be enacted on a federal level, meaning it covers the online and interstate sale of bath salts and other synthetics.