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Browse: 1% of Teens Have Used the So-Called "Zombie Drug" Bath Salts



n 2012, bath salts became synonymous with cannibal behavior after a thought to be high on the substance chewed the face and eyeball off of another man. Subsequent toxicology tests revealed that the man was on bath salts, but by then the misleading claim had taken off. Now, a new study suggests that baths are often unaware that they are using the substance, because they assume it's connected to zombie-like proclivities.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence is also the first to estimate the prevalence of bath salt use among high school seniors in the US. Researchers report that nearly 1

percent of high school seniors reported using the drug "Flakka" at least once between 2016 and 2017.

Flakka (also known as "gravel"), the street name for the compound alpha-PVP, is one of the 127 compounds lumped into a group commonly referred to as bath salts – a class of highly potent psychoactive substances technically known as synthetic cathinones. They are designed to copy and amplify the stimulant effects of the plant, a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia.

Lead author Joseph Palamar, Ph.D., and associate professor at New York University, tells Inverse that the study's result is in line with his previous research, which determined that only about 1 percent of teenagers knowingly used bath salts in general. Prior to this evaluation of teenage use, Palamar hair-tested ecstasy and Molly users in the EDM scene and found that "quite a few" were knowingly using bath salts, including Flakka.

 Bath salts
A package of the drug "bath salts" disguised as actual bath salts.

"I would like to cut hair samples from people entering nightclubs and festivals, and people would laugh and say things like," Go ahead, take my hair, I'm not a zombie user, and their hair would test positive for Flakka or other bath salts, ”Palamar says. "Molly adulterated with bath salts is so common that I have a lot of young users have no idea what actual MDMA feels like."

Now, Palamar and his colleagues are the first to try to figure out how many young users there are. They analyzed data from the 2016/2017 Monitoring the Future study, which surveyed a national sample of 3,786 high school seniors from 130 public and private schools across the US. Students were asked about overall drug and alcohol use and their home life.

Overall, 0.8 percent of high school seniors reported using Flakka. Students in families with a lower estimated socioeconomic status, with parents who have less than a high school education, and who did not live with their parents had higher odds of using the drugs. It is important to note that this survey may underestimate the use because the compound is often used unknowingly.

Crucially, the survey also demonstrates that Flakka use rarely occurs in isolation. In this group, 85.6 percent had used the synthetic cannabinoid spice, 72.3 percent had used ketamine, and 59.1 percent had used marijuana.

" Flakka is an extremely potent stimulant, and by no means the type of drug someone starts off with, ”Palamar explains. “People who use Flakka tend to have an extensive drug repertoire. Most highly potent or very dangerous street drugs aren't initiated by people who are very experienced with a variety of other drugs. ”

To use You can use something potentially quite dangerous. While the substance does not turn into a cannibal, it's more potent than methamphetamine and is believed to have higher addiction potential. Classified into groups of drugs known as "new psychoactive substances," it was linked to over 22,000 hospital visits in 2011. Over 100 Flakka-related deaths have occurred throughout Europe, and at least 80 deaths related to Flakka use happened in Florida between 2014 and 2015. Its use is linked to adverse effects like excited delirium syndrome, aggression, and suicidal tendencies.


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