Doctors Unsure Of Long-Term Effects Of Bath Salts

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - It seems practically every other call local police respond to nowadays is about people under the influence of legal hallucinogens being labeled as "bath salts."

But unlike meth or cocaine, there isn?t much information about the long-term effects on the body and mind according to doctors we spoke with. That includes how the dangerous drugs will affect the composition of the brain.

On the Partnership For A Drug-Free America?s website, if you search for long-term effects of bath salts it simply says ?unknown.?

The Bristol, Tennessee Police Department responded to a call in the beginning of January 2012 about a 22-year-old man wrapped up in blankets on the floor acting "strange." Police learned the man was under the influence of bath salts. According to officers that responded to the call, he couldn?t form complete sentences and was having verbal outbursts. Click here to see video of the incident recorded on a deputy's badge camera.

Police said he was rather peaceful compared to some other people under the influence of bath salts. Deputy Brandon Shull of the Sullivan County Sheriff?s Department said sometimes they?re not only hallucinating but they are very paranoid, especially about police. "People think the cops and bad guys are there when they're not,? he said. ?They run around naked thinking they're on fire.?

Shull said they become agitated and violent very quickly, which is a dangerous combination, especially because the drug affects pain receptors in the brain. "It takes six to eight officers to get them in custody," he said. "Tasers, batons, everything we carry doesn't hurt them, doesn't touch them."

Shull said at least two officers have been attacked in our area in the past few weeks by people under the influence of bath salts.

With other substances, there is research that shows how the brain changes over time with the continual use of the drugs. However, doctors say it could be years before there is information available about what will happen to the brain after the long-term use of bath salts. ?We?re just not sure,? said Dr. Freddy Creekmore at Holston Valley Medical Center. ?We really don?t know if permanent harm has been done."

The man in the video wasn?t arrested or charged with anything because these drugs are currently legal.

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