The abuse of a product known as “bath salts” landed more Iowans in hospitals last week than ever before. Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and spokeswoman for the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center, says she’s been surprised by the uptick in calls.
Noble says, “Our numbers are increasing and last week we had 17 cases in hospitals across the state which is a record high for us here in Iowa.” Despite efforts by state legislators to ban “bath salts,” they are still legal. Noble says there are reports of people smoking and snorting the powdery substance, which can bring a high like meth or cocaine.
Some abusers of the chemical end up with life-threatening medical conditions. “They can become violent, hard to control,” Noble says. “They can have hallucinations. We’ve even seen some cases where there are seizures. It’s a lot of bizarre behavior that is difficult to control when you’re with someone that is using the drug.”
There were no reported deaths from the consumption of bath salts this week, but she finds the range of people who have sampled it rather alarming. “We’ve seen both males and females that are using it,” Noble says. “It tends to be more teenagers and young adults but our ages have gone even up into the 60s, so it’s pretty diverse across age groups.”
She says there are still multiple reported cases of illness in Iowa due to people smoking synthetic marijuana, or K-2. That product is illegal in Iowa but people are still getting access to it.
The statewide hotline to the poison center is 800-222-1222.