Hospital ERs see surge of people using bath salts to get high


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In a week it will be illegal in North Carolina, but for now bath salts are a popular legal drug getting some folks high, while others believe it’s a new low.

“People are addicted to it,” Dr. Michael Molton, an ER doctor at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, said. “They keep taking it and taking it. It’s cheap. It’s not illegal right now, and it’s something I would just stay away from.”

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Molton says in the past month, the ER at NHRMC has been flooded with people trying to get high on bath salts.

“When they first started coming here, we didn’t know exactly what it was, because it’s a new form of drug that we don’t have any testing for,” Dr. Molton said. “They came in acutely psychotic, meaning completely out of touch with reality and just kind of real wacky, completely off the wall, and we couldn’t figure out exactly why, and eventually we traced it down to being the new bath salts.”

Molton says bath salts are a synthetic stimulant with the same effects as drugs like speed or cocaine. The only difference? You can buy bath salts over the counter, and you only have to be 18 years old.

Users snort bath salts like cocaine. Dr. Molton says recently they have seen many college-aged people in the Cape Fear trying the drug, and there are very serious consequences.

“Very similar to high doses of cocaine, high doses of speed, ecstasy, cocaine,” Molton said. “All those stimulants. It has a very high titration, which means some people can take a little bit and they’re not too bad and some people have taken so much they have found them dead and they can die from large ingestions.”

Molton says aside from the immediate side effects of trying this drug, there are more serious issues that could present themselves later in life.

“We just don’t know. We don’t have any long term studies on these drugs that are being manufactured, so I’d say you’re really kind of crazy if you try to take a drug like this,” Molton said.

Bath salts become illegal June 1, but many folks, including Dr. Molton say when this happens, the drug will not go away. It will just get more expensive.

We stopped by some shops in town that sell bath salts. The workers did not want to be on camera, but say they sell high quantities of bath salts every day to many different kinds of people.