GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - A dangerous drug that causes violent outbursts is growing in popularity across the country. They're referred to as bath salts.
"It looks like a stimulant overdose," explained tom Richie, with Libertas Treatment Center in Green Bay. "Agitation, paranoia, suicidal thinking, increased heart rates."
The name "bath salts" doesn't refer to any single drug, but a group of substances with similar chemical properties.
"They're a cocktail of different substances made in street labs," said Richie. "Just interviewing the outpatient counselors here, up to 50% of the young people I deal with have used some type of synthetic drug that was packaged as something else. Not for human consumption, so it's definitely out there and it's available."
Green Bay police say they haven't yet seen a case involving bath salts, but officers are trained on how to handle similar situations.
Forty states have enacted a bath salt ban, including Wisconsin. But it's difficult to enforce because of the ever-changing chemicals that make up the drugs. Also, there's no medical test to detect bath salts on a patient.
"We haven't had a long history of seeing the effects of these drugs, but from what we know so far, the calls coming in from the emergency room, the poison center, the crisis center, all of these things have gone up exponentially in regards to bath salts."
Poison control centers across the U.S. received 3,470 calls about bath salts from January to June 2011, that's up from just 303 calls in all of 2010.
But despite the dangerous effects and increased awareness, more cases keep popping up.
"Unfortunately," added Richie. "there can be acute toxicity and long-term health effects that we just don't know about yet."