For example, the Internet is filled with stories of Rudy Eugene, a man who was discovered eating another man's face in Miami. Reports are linking his ultra-violent behavior to "bath salts," a mostly legal synthetic compound that is said to produce a wide array of intense hallucinogenic results in users after ingestion. After being summoned by a fellow motorist, police officers shot and killed Eugene who allegedly growled at officers and continued chewing on the victim's facial flesh until he was shot and killed. In the media frenzy, Eugene is being called everything from a crazed "zombie" to a cannibal on the Internet.
|Ronald Poppo (victim) and Rudy Eugene|
These stories are shocking and horrifying to say the least. I am saddened for the family members and friends of the victims in these two stories. My hope is that they can all find some peace in the aftermath of such grisly events. I guess only time will tell.
But, I also find it interesting (and maybe a little frustrating) that popular media and various anti-drug organizations are focusing so much of their collective energy and attention on condemning hallucinogenic drugs. In the wake of these tragedies--which are extreme cases--both media and anti-drug organizations have effectively distorted the public health implications of drugs like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and "bath salts."
In the bigger picture, psilocybin, bath salts, LSD, salvia, and a wide array of other licit and illicit hallucinogenic substances are far less of a public health danger than are more common substances like alcohol and tobacco. Hallucinogens are amongst the least abused substances according to big surveys by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. In fact, amongst illicit drugs, hallucinogens are the third least reported used/abused drug by survey respondents. The only drugs that respondents used with less frequency were inhalants and heroin. The rates of alcohol and tobacco use/abus are much higher than all illicit drugs.
|Bath Salts: A New Public Health Danger?|
I realize that anti-drug organizations and reporters are opportunistic and see stories of grisly murder as a chance to warn the public about the potential dangers of magic mushrooms, "bath salts", and other substances that don't get as much public airtime. At the same time, these reports should be placed in a much broader context so that the public understands the relative dangers of these drugs compared to the more familiar ones bought and sold at your local convenience store.