Increased drug incidents throughout installations cause concern for the welfare of our Soldiers and families. Specific drugs of interest include Salvia, Spice, a cocaine-like substance being sold as “bath salts” and, most recently, “Devil Tracks.”
Synthetic cannabinoids, such as Salvia and Spice, have been recently placed on the temporary list of controlled substances and both Bath Salts and Devil Tracks contain analogues of illegal substances. Yet, the occurences affiliated with the use of these substances continue to rise. And the experiences of those who partake in these substances all comes down to a central theme — the changes in psychosis vary drastically from one person to another making it impossible to predict individual effects. The best line of defense to combat this growing issue is building awareness.Horror stories
Fort Benning — An NCO was found in his room after missing formation for a significant training event. He complained of not feeling well and, according to his leadership “did not seem like his usual self.” He began vomiting and had to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. The cause of his reaction? Spice.
San Francisco, Calif. — An 18-year old woman was admitted to the hospital after developing schizophrenic-type symptoms. Her heightened agitation caused her to bite a half inch out of her tongue. The status of her physical condition deteriorated until part of her small intestine and colon had to be removed due to necrosis. After several treatments of anti-psychotic drugs, she was released. The cause of her severe reaction? Salvia Divinorium.
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Fort Bragg, N.C. — Three paratroopers were hospitalized in critical condition after taking a substance believed to be “legal.” The drug the Soldiers took, given to them by another Soldier, mimicked the effects of Ecstasy — which can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure. The cause of their reaction? Devil Tracks.
Covington, La. — A father spent three days taking care of his son who, after snorting a “legal” substance, suffered a brutal case of intermittent delirium. The son’s visions became so intense that he tried to cut his throat, narrowly missing major arteries. On the third day of hallucinations, while the father slept, the son went into another room and shot himself. The cause of his severe reaction? Bath Salts.Army actions
The aforementioned drugs are against Army policy, listed as temporary controlled substances or as analogues of already controlled substances.
Use or possession of any of these is a violation of Army Regulation 600-85 and a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Army Regulation 600-85, para 4-2m (2), prohibits any drug used “for the primary purpose of inducing excitement, intoxication and/or stupefaction.”
Fort Benning Policy Memorandum 600-85-1, dated Jan. 21, 2010, prohibits the use of “controlled substance analogues” (such as designer drugs). The policy further specifies that the purpose, use or possession of these substances or similar substances are prohibited on federal government facilities and by persons working for the DoD who fall under the authority of the Maneuver Center of Excellence commanding general.There were 14 Fort Benning Soldiers prosecuted for Salvia or Spice last year.
Several states have banned the drugs.
The sale or possession of MDPV, the drug contained in Bath Salts, is currently banned in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota. Salvia was restricted in 21 states and Spice in 13 states prior to placement on the federal temporary controlled substances list.
Effective March 1, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a final order to temporarily place five synthetic cannabinoids, including Salvia and Spice, into the federal Controlled Substances Act. This order means all criminal, civil and administrative penalties will be imposed on anyone manufacturing, distributing or possessing these substances.MDPV and Mephedrone, the drug contained in Devil Tracks, are not currently a scheduled drug under the CSA. However, both are analogues of drugs on Schedule I of the CSA which allows for cases involving MDPV or Mephedrone to be prosecuted under the Federal Analogue Act of the CSA.
The five cannabinoids on the temporary list will remain in place for one year, giving the DEA time to research the drugs more effectively while protecting the populace in order to establish a permanent ban.
MDPV and Mephedrone are listed as “drugs of concern” with the DEA and several states have passed or proposed bills to ban the drugs. Georgia is in the process of submitting House Bill 199, which would ban both substances in addition to an extensive list of other drugs.
A word of caution
Even with the ongoing legal restrictions of these drugs, there are other synthetic substances and designer drugs being developed on a daily basis.
If you come across any item that remotely resembles a designer drug do not touch the substance, restrict anyone from entering the area and contact the Military Police.
Keep track of what children are purchasing from novelty stores and online. Be alert for suspicious substances disguised as common household items. Awareness is the key to prevention, and prevention is the answer to protecting the welfare and lives of our Soldiers and families.
Salvia Divinorium is an herb containing the active ingredient Salvinorin A. Present in the forms of seeds, leaves or as a liquid extract, Salvia can be ingested when either smoked or contained in a drink. It works by acting on the receptors in the brain and causes immediate altered perceptions of reality, visual distortions and hallucinations.Salvia has also been known to cause the following specific effects:
Recalling past memories, such as revisiting places from childhood
Overlapping realities, such as the perception of being in several locations at once
Synesthesia, where users report sensations become intertwined (hearing colors, smelling sounds)
Spice, also known as K2, Red Ball, Blowout, Chill and more, is a synthetic substance that produces a high similar to the effects of marijuana. Physical outcomes include anxiety, seizures, vomiting, increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Samples taken from various Spice packets have tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids JWH-018 and JWH-073. The drugs were originally developed in the mid-1990s by Clemson University researchers conducting lab experiments on mice to test the compounds’ effects on the brain.
Marketed as bath salts in specialty shops under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, Blue Silk, Charge Plus, White Lightening, Cloud 9 and Energy 1, the substance is also known as “fake cocaine” as it exists in white-powder form that users usually snort to get high, but it can be smoked or ingested. The active ingredient in Bath Salt products is 3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) which affects the central nervous system. Users of the drug have reported feelings of empathy, alertness, euphoria and awareness of senses. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration has further reported that, in higher doses, MDPV has been known to cause the following:
Excessively rapid heart rate
High blood pressure
Prolonged panic attacks
Psychosis, induced by sleep deprivation
In Europe, MDPV has been in circulation since 2007 and healthcare officials report that users are “losing touch with reality” and are being treated in mental institutions.
Advertised as a plant feeder and available online, news of increased use of this drug is primarily coming out of central Texas. Devils Tracks contains mephedrone (also called 4-methylmethcathinone), which is chemically related to MDMA (ecstasy).
While Devil Tracks is sold as plant food, aside from its effects, the cost is drastically different. Plant food is typically bought at a rate of $10 per five pounds where Devil Tracks sells for about $20 per 500 milligrams.Though it’s legal to sell the product advertized as Devil Tracks, human consumption of mephedrone can result in being arrested if someone is found under the influence. It may also be detected in a drug test as MDMA.