You probably recall last May’s infamous Miami story of a naked man who attacked a homeless man and chewed off his face. It was blamed on a synthetic variant of the drug methylenedioxypyrovalerone, otherwise known as “bath salts,” although it was later learned that the notorious naked man, who was killed by police, had nothing but marijuana in his system.
Nevertheless, the case drove everything from speculation about an upcoming zombie apocalypse to Congress and state legislatures quickly new laws making use of the substance a drug crime. At the same time, they outlawed synthetic marijuana and several synthetics.
Now, the U.S. Navy has caused a stir with a new anti-bath salts PSA that brings to mind the 1936 film “Reefer Madness.” While “Reefer Madness” was absurdly inaccurate, it’s hard to say whether the Navy’s PSA reflects reality — that is, unless you’re already familiar with the mental effects of bath salts.
The short film, called “BATH SALTS: It’s not a fad…It’s a NIGHTMARE,” is filmed as if through the eyes of a young Navy man taking the drug. He receives the drug in the mail, snorts it, and then goes out bowling with his friends and girlfriend. As if looking through his eyes, we see his friends turn seem to become especially aggressive and then turn into demons. He awakens on an emergency room gurney and undergoes a somewhat zombie-like revivification via a syringe stabbed into him as he struggles. A Navy psychologist then comes on screen to explain the events.
“When people are using bath salts, they’re not their normal selves,” he explains. “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.”
It is difficult to assess the accuracy of the experiences depicted. That said, the Navy has been attempting to stamp out bath salt use among sailors since at least 2010. Last year, they added synthetic drug compounds to those that could be detected in their drug testing program. Apparently, use of bath salts was not especially prevalent, as drug testing of the Pacific Fleet yielded 47 sailors who tested positive. 10 were discharged.
Amusing as the new PSA may be, it does make an important point. Whatever you think of these substances, they’re now illegal, and being arrested for a federal drug crime requires a serious response.
Source: Time, “U.S. Navy PSA Shows Demonic Dangers of Bath Salts,” Melissa Locker, Jan. 4, 2013