A dangerous new drug being marketed as bath salts is sending dozens of Louisianians to the hospital. Since late September, hospital emergency rooms in every region of the state have treated 84 people for paranoia, hallucinations, tachycardia, agitation, hypertension, chest pain, headache and suicidal thoughts. Louisiana has recorded more cases than any other state. The problem has progressively gotten worse. The Louisiana Poison Center is now receiving 4-5 calls a day concerning the drug. 

The new drug is being sold on the internet and in convenience stores, gas stations and on the street by the brand names Ivory Wave, Ocean, Charge +, White Lightening, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Red Dove, Cloud 9 and White Dove. Packages of the powdered substance labeled as "bath salts" indicate that the products are "not for human consumption," but most patients calling poison centers have snorted the substances. In at least two cases, users injected the substance, and one person attempted to smoke it. It's also being marketed as plant food and insect repellent. 

The chemicals within these products are Mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). "The chemicals are known to have stimulant effects, but users are experiencing extreme paranoia and hostility," said Mark Ryan, Director of the Louisiana Poison Center. "Police have reported violent encounters with those high on the substance." 

Louisiana Department of Health Office of Behavioral Health Medical Director Dr. Rochelle Head-Dunham says these chemicals are extremely dangerous. "The amphetamine and cocaine like excitatory effects of these compounds impair judgment and pose a danger to physical health. Parents should be alert to unusual behaviors demonstrated by their children and adolescents, and keep the lines of communication open about the dangers of any drug use." 

If you have any concerns about someone who is misusing these chemicals, please contact the Louisiana Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. 

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at http://www.myhealthla.org/, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.