Navy PSA aims to deter use of bath salts

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SAN DIEGO – In the latest effort to combat the synthetic drug epidemic, the Navy released a public service announcement regarding the dangers of bath salts.

The P.S.A. is called “It’s not a fad. It’s a nightmare.”

It addresses not only the health risk of using bath salts, but also how they can impact a service member’s job and loved ones.

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 9.02.01 PMThe dramatization shows a sailor ingesting bath salts. During his “high” the sailor sees his girlfriend in a demonic light. Later in the video, the soldier is rushed to the hospital, because of the synthetic drug’s effects.

Lt. George  Loeffler from the Naval Medical Center San Diego is featured in the P.S.A. He describes the effects of bath salts he’s seen firsthand.

“The patients I’ve run into have been really sick,” said Lt. Loeffler. “And I’ve seen these impacts affect them and their lives, their military careers, but also their families.”

Bath salts can produce both medical and psychiatric side effects, Lt. Loeffler said.

“People having seizures, feeling like they’re having heart attack, difficulty breathing,” said Lt. Loeffler. “There are reports of people’s brains swelling. Also reports of people dying, people who feel extremely anxious, panicked. They’re having auditory and visual hallucination which means they’re seeing things, hearing things that aren’t there.”

The Navy launched a long-term campaign against the synthetic drug epidemic last year. This PSA is the latest in a line of deterrents.

Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, the U.S. Navy surgeon general, has compared bath salts to playing Russian roulette. Lt. Loeffler agrees with the description.

“These are substances that have never been tested on human beings,” said Lt. Loeffler. “Most often haven’t been tested on animals either. Furthermore it’s not a single substance, it’s actually a class of substances. You have no idea what you’re getting, what amount you’re getting and we don’t know what effects that they have on human beings. So, I think that the metaphor of Russian roulette is pretty apt.”

The Navy has a zero-tolerance drug policy and Lt. Loeffler said bath salts are included in that policy.

The entire P.S.A. is available on the U.S. Navy Medicine YouTube channel.

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