Over the past 3 weeks, local hospitals have reported a significant rise in the number of people they've treated for ingesting bath salts. As Alexandra Hill tells us, sheriff's officials say they want to address the problem immediately.
Bath salts, marketed under the names Blue Silk, White Lightning, Blue Diamond, Mojo Diamond, and Tranquility, are the newest synthetic drug danger.
"It's very very scary and concerning to us in the medical field."
Local emergency rooms have seen a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from symptoms of bath salt ingestion. Users snort or inject the substance, which any adult can by at local head shops. A 500-milligram packet of the white powder for around $40.
Frank McKeithen, Bay County Sheriff, says, "People are not going to pay 40 dollars for a bath powder that's less than the amount in a Sweet 'N Low. It's common knowledge it's being used. It's being ingested. It's being abused, but they're selling it."
Medical professionals say the drug is 10 to 15 times more potent than meth or cocaine.
Symptoms can include unfounded fear, rambling speech, paranoia, hallucinations, increased body temperature, extreme sweating, and superman-like strength and endurance.
Rusti Taylor, Bay Medical Center ER Director says, "It's taking 5,6,7,8 guys to get these guys sedated. This is an issue. This is a problem and it's inevitable if it continues on the trail its on now that someone is going to die."
With spring break approaching, McKeithen fears its use will reach epidemic levels.
"We have thousands of kids coming to Panama City Beach for a great time. Unfortunately, there's always something that gets in the way and we're just trying to get out there before we have that perfect storm."