“These are absolutely the worst drugs (Youtube) I’ve ever seen,” is how one drug investigator described “Bath Salts,” the street name for synthetic drugs that alter the brain—sometimes permanently.
Bath Salts (WebMD) are sold legally under the guise of being added to bath water. The package is labeled “not for human consumption.” But their true use is sinister. When ingested, Bath Salts mimic other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, with horrible effects that lead to paranoid behaviors, violence, seizures and too often a trip to the hospital, said Eric Van Fossen, coordinator with the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force.
Van Fossen will be a speaker at a “synthetic drug” awareness meeting on Sunday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at Zoar Baptist Church in Deltaville. All area middle and high school youth are encouraged to attend.
A public awareness meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Sunday, October 21, at Zoar Church in Deltaville.
The paradox of Bath Salts is obvious, said a drug investigator with 16 years experience. “Who would pay more than $35 for a package with a teaspoon of crystals to put in their bath water?”
He said there are more than 80 different synthetic drugs with enticing names such as Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Bliss, and Zoom, to name a few.
“Bath Salts are a public health crisis,” said State Delegate Keith Hodges of Urbanna, a pharmacist who serves on the General Assembly’s substance abuse council.
The long-term effects of using unknown toxic chemicals are unknown, Del. Hodges said. However, horror stories are surfacing that seem more like fiction, but are indeed fact.
The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office responded to more than 20 Bath Salts-related emergencies in two months this spring.
In April 2012, a Middlesex County man on Bath Salts destroyed his own home, and the following week he destroyed the inside of his neighbor’s home.
In May 2012, a Middlesex County teenager was transported to the hospital for elevated heart rate five times in 36 hours after using “Amped.”
In April, a Gloucester County woman saw aliens, FBI agents in trees, and snakes after using “Amped.” She ended up in intensive care.
At this Sunday’s meeting, professionals will be on hand to answer health questions about these highly-addictive drugs.
Other speakers include Middlesex Sheriff’s Office investigators Captain M.E. Sampson and C.B. Sibley. Call Captain Sampson at 758-1335 for more information.
A one-way trip, with no return
At this Sunday’s synthetic drug awareness meeting in Deltaville, parents whose deceased son used Bath Salts will share their tragic story. Their son started using Bath Salts when he was 17. In August his parents had to make the decision to terminate his life-support equipment. Their only son was dead at 20.
Even though the young man quit doing drugs and alcohol and developed a new relationship with God, he still had “flashbacks” of being on Bath Salts, said his father.
He had been clean for 2 years but still hallucinated that people were standing in the road as he drove. His parents spent thousands of dollars trying to correct the damage that had been done to his brain by Bath Salts.
The four-time All-State wrestler had fits of intense anger for no reason at all, and would call his parents from college in the middle of the night and rant for hours seeking relief.
In the end, nothing could reverse the damage done by Bath Salts. Nothing.
“A dead spot in his brain”
The effects of synthetic drugs on the brain can be lethal. No one knows this more than Judy and Kevin Mooers of Heathsville in Northumberland County, whose 20-year-old son died in August.
Matt Mooers started doing Bath Salts when he was 17 years old, after a stranger approached him at a convenience store telling him that for a few dollars he could get high all night. “After he did it once he didn’t want to live a normal life,” Judy Mooers told the audience at the synthetic drug awareness meeting. Matt would later tell his parents, “If only I had said ‘no.’ ”
These “super addictive” drugs cause circulation problems, said Mrs. Mooers. When her son, a 4-time All-State wrestler, worked out, his knee caps would turn very red. He also had severe migraine headaches.
After attending a wedding in Seattle and suffering drug withdrawals on the return trip, Matt wandered off from his parents during a gas stop in Fredericksburg. He met a man who prayed with him. That was the beginning of his comeback, said Mrs. Mooers.
Matt got clean of drugs for high school wrestling season, “but that yearning was still inside him,” she said.
As a freshman at James Madison University, Matt started drinking a lot. By the second semester he was drunk almost all the time. He landed in jail for possession of alcohol and public intoxication. Although he had no shirt, one shoe and a black eye, he had no memory of how or what had happened.
A short time later, Matt was on his way to a Bible study, but may have had the wrong date. However, he heard gospel music being sung and went in the church. At the end of the service, Matt professed that he was an addict and alcoholic. Those in the church rushed to hug him. “He was a different person after that,” said Mrs. Mooers.
Matt remained sober until his last night partying, three days before he died.
He became active in Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, went on a mission trip to the New York City Bowery where he tried to help addicts who had given up.
About two weeks later, Matt called his parents. “I’m in a rage . . . and there is no reason for it.” Eventually, doctors diagnosed Matt. “He had a dead spot in his brain coming from the synthetic drugs he had done years earlier,” said Mrs. Mooers.
Although he had been clean for two years, Matt had drug flashbacks and was hallucinating that people were looking in his windows, and people were standing in the road when he was driving.
Matt’s parents are still trying to figure out what happened the night of August 14, 2012. From Matt’s text messages to a friend, his parents learned, “I need one night of fun . . . I need a break, don’t worry.”
Mrs. Mooers added, “In the mind of every addict is a demon saying, ‘You’ve been good. You deserve some fun.’ ”
His friend found him unconscious around noon on the following day. His heart had stopped. The rescue squad worked 20 minutes to get his heart started.
There was little brain activity. He was placed on a respirator and his parents were called. “We knew it was unlikely he would recover,” said Mrs. Mooers.
His friends filled the waiting room in Harrisonburg Hospital. Some revealed how Matt had helped them break free of drugs, and how he had apologized for influencing them to do drugs.
His parents honored Matt’s wish to donate his organs and made the decision to terminate life support.
The police investigation into Matt Mooers’ death continues, said his father Kevin. Those who partied with Matt on his final night could face murder charges, and “they have retained lawyers,” he added.
The chemicals in some Bath Salts are unknown and those who make and sell them don’t always know the full extent of their effect, said Mr. Mooers. “They don’t know what the drugs will do,” he said. “They only find out when they sell them.”
By the time Matt Mooers learned what their effects were—it was too late.