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Scripps Institute Finds Designer Drug, Bath Salts Are More Potent, Addictive Than Meth

Evening Edition

Aired 7/16/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS

Dr. Michael Taffe, is a psychologist and an associate professor with the Scripps Research Institute, Committee On The Neurobiology Of Addictive Disorders

Dr. Tobin Dickerson, Associate Professor Department of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute

Transcript

Last year almost 100 sailors were kicked out of the navy in San Diego for using a new recreational drug known as bath salts.

This year the Navy produced dramatic public service announcement to warn sailors of the dangers of the drug.

They weren't the only ones experimenting with the drug. Emergency rooms experienced a spike in people coming in with life threatening symptoms as a result of taking the synthetic compound.

Bath salts are a designer drug, developed in the lab. And now scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego have had a chance to analyze the compound. They've made some interesting discoveries -- among them: bath salts are more potent and addictive than meth.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 17, 2013 at 7:56 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

quit just talking and go after the makers.

the death penalty should apply for these scum.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 17, 2013 at 9:21 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

This is what happens when you play prohibition. No different from bathtub gin making people go blind.

These are the secondary effects I always refer to when discussing issues regarding social policy. The idea we should eliminate food stamps for drug users was being argued for, stating that cost savings would be the benefit. Not only that, but they would use starvation as motivation to straighten up.

Sound familiar? The War on Drugs was supposed to save us money, clean up our society, etc. What has happened instead? Cheaper, higher quality drugs. And now, "legal" alternatives. Who would've guessed that banning certain drugs would cause someone to seek alternatives, rather than just quit using them altogether and straighten up?

People like Mmikey are very shallow thinkers, whose opinions couldn't be taken seriously in a real debate. Their surface level analysis usually has zero substance, and only serves to remind them they can say things and be heard, no matter how ignorant they are. Don't take these people seriously, especially when they can't even form a detailed, comprehensive opinion.

To paraphrase; Legalize (or decriminalize) and educate.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-decriminalization-in-portugal-12-years-later-a-891060.html

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 17, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Got to agree with you here Anon, it isn't the government's job to protect people from their own stupidity. Legalize it all and let the dumb ones self-select out.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 17, 2013 at 10:16 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

We should be treating abuse as a health issue, so I do believe the government has some sort of responsibility to provide that infrastructure. Untreated drug abusers can incur secondary costs for the rest of us otherwise. It's the smart, long-term investment.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 17, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

And here is where we diverge again. If you are free to get yourself in trouble with drugs, feel free to help yourself recover. Liberty and control are antithetical.

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Avatar for user 'bikemonk'

bikemonk | July 17, 2013 at 10:56 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, the subsequent Meat Inspection Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 set down the emphatic principle that one of the roles of government is to protect people from "their own stupidity". There are numerous regulations on products (lead in paint) and individual behavior (think automobile speed limits) that are likewise directed at keeping people safer. In most, if not all cases, one is free to argue that these regulations only serve to protect people from their own choices- don't like auto wrecks? don't drive anywhere. Worried about tainted meat? Raise your own cows. Etc.

With respect to concepts of liberty and free choice, I would observe that making your choices based on the most accurate information is essential. Choices made in ignorance, or on the basis of misinformation provided to you by people with a financial interest in selling you something, are comparatively less free.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 17, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Bikemonk bringing the logic.

Benz, it's not that black and white. If I'm a drug abuser, I'm probably burdening the state by either receiving assistance, being unemployed, or both. Obviously prohibition doesn't dissuade usage, so that's not a realistic option. So the question becomes a matter of how to minimize the damage the drug abuser does to themselves and society. If I'm receiving jail time for my drug problem, I'm costing the state even more. If I don't get treatment and don't go to jail, my addiction could worsen, and it could lead to increased crime and blight. This affects public safety and property values (meaning it affects YOU).

So what option is left? Treatment and recovery. Think about it this way: If you were feeling sick, would you like to get medicine earlier in the illness or later once it's progressed and you've spread it to others? Why? Because the sooner you address the health issue, the cheaper and easier it is to fix, and the less likely it is to be communicable. This doesn't change with drug abuse.

Yes, this will cost us. But it will (potentially) cost us less than any other feasible option. Not only that, but we are trying to cure people rather than incarcerate them.

So you can pretend their actions don't have social repercussions, but that's just head-in-the-sand ignorance.

I feel like this quote sums up my views on society quite nicely, even if it seems a little out there: "You're not stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic".

We are not individuals in a society... we ARE society.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 17, 2013 at 2:02 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Bikemonk, our positions are not incompatible.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the government warning the citizenry against the dangers of addiction, which substances are addictive and what sources of those substances fail safety/cleanliness standards.
The rub comes in when that citizen ignores that warning. Anon seems to be arguing that regardless of their choice to commit self harm we are collectively obliged to intervene. I reject this premise.
The consequences of bad personal choices should be borne by the one making that bad choice, and those who choose to help them.

Anon, your price comparison is only accurate if one accepts responsibility for rectifying the original decision of the addict. That is appropriately a private obligation, not a public one.

Life insurance doesn't pay for suicide; public programs need not concern themselves with repairing the damage people cause to themselves, especially through activity they have been specifically warned against. That is how parents (should) treat adolescents, not how governments (should) treat enfranchised adults.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 17, 2013 at 2:39 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Man, you really don't get it. You can't opt out of society. We are forced to make a decision on how to minimize the damage some people do.

Drug abusers do affect us, right? Because if they didn't, there wouldn't be a problem. They would be sight unseen. But that's not how it is, is it? We deal with the repercussions of their decisions, right? So how do you not make the connection between how they affect us and how that ties them to us? If they are tied to us, then we are put in a situation where we are pretty much obligated to make a decision.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 17, 2013 at 2:50 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Think of drug abuse as a communicable disease. The individual should be responsible for their own health, right? But if they don't get help, they'll end up spreading the sickness. At what point do we acknowledge it is better to invest in curing the person now rather than leave them to their own devices, knowing their inaction will negatively impact others?

Same logic.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 17, 2013 at 2:55 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

OK, my decision is to let them fail on their own and not put money into bad investments.

I don't want to tell the drug user what to do. Similarly, I don't want you to tell me that I have to care for a person who does not care for himself. We are not short on people.

Besides, most of the ties you point to are superficial. Please imagine how your life would change if every drug addict in the US died today. Exactly how would that harm you? Still have a place to live? Clothes to wear? food to eat? Power & water still on? Which irreplaceable service are you missing?

I think civilization is a lot more robust than you give it credit for.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 17, 2013 at 5:33 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

You are ignoring reality. There is no real situation where you will be able to opt out of your place in society. You can't choose to not pay for public rehabilitation services that already exist. You are paying for people's mistakes whether you like it or not. That is what society is. You can't opt out. What REAL option do you choose?

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 18, 2013 at 6:57 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

The reality you describe is a result of current law, which is subject to change. For most of human history, most of the places in the world that operated similar to the principle I describe. Once we realize it is too expensive to continue throwing good money after bad we will stop doing it. I'm advocating that we wake up a little sooner.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | July 18, 2013 at 8:08 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"The" reality. It's just reality. Blame it on laws or structure or whatever.. But your "reality" is based off of a major political and social restructuring that isn't happening, so how real is it exactly?

I have an idea. How about we eliminate wealthy welfare first? The timing on this article couldn't be more perfect:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/18/colbert-if-poor-people-want-food-stamps-they-should-become-massive-corporations/

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Avatar for user 'bikemonk'

bikemonk | July 18, 2013 at 10:56 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

benz72-

Do you really think "warning" is sufficient to risk opiate based OTC teething medications again?
http://books.google.com/books?id=g_YAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA504#v=onepage&q&f=false

Would a government finding that car air bags were a good idea mean that the average citizen could retrofit them to his or her car, absent regulatory requirements that forced manufacturers to included them? (heck, they fought seat belts).

For a poor person, or one stuck in a given neighborhood, is the warning that their cheap and local source of groceries might just be tainted with legionnaires or cholera or something be sufficient?

Or do we intervene. And find after we have done so that it is a net good?

Oh, and the irreplaceable service one would be missing is the friend, neighbor or relative that has died. Many of us have people that are important to us who are drug addicts. or were. or will be in the future. To echo Anon11, "society".

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 18, 2013 at 1:46 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

100 in San Diego or 100 in the entire country?

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 18, 2013 at 1:47 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Nevermind. Misread it.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 18, 2013 at 1:51 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

BENZZZ says "liberty and control are antithetical."

Are you free to do as you please or do you have to follow rules, codes and regulations in your employment, daily life, etc.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 19, 2013 at 7:27 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"I have an idea. How about we eliminate wealthy welfare first?"
Simultaneous would be better, but in either case, they both should be eliminated.

"Do you really think "warning" is sufficient to risk opiate based OTC teething medications again?"
I think it must be. Prohibition is ineffective. Interference in personal choice is costly and oppressive. The world is a dangerous place, and the safer we try to make it for idiots, the more idiotic one can be and still survive. That seems like a perverse definition of progress to me.

“Would a government finding that car air bags were a good idea mean that the average citizen could retrofit them to his or her car, absent regulatory requirements that forced manufacturers to included them? (heck, they fought seat belts).”
Not at all, but you seem to be confusing good ideas with requirements. From a safety perspective, roll cages and 5-point harnesses are even better ideas, do you think they should be mandated? If it is important to the individual then they will prioritize it. If it isn’t important to them, it isn’t important to me to provide it for them. We should be allowed to take our own risks.

“groceries might just be tainted with legionnaires or cholera” This is a good example of a public good. Communicable diseases endanger the public at large instead of just the individual. I do agree that developing and enforcing minimal food safety standards is an appropriate use of government.

“irreplaceable service one would be missing is the friend, neighbor or relative that has died” Please consider expanding your social circle beyond terminally addicted drug users. There are many other potential friends out there that do not carry the same level of risk. It may be an upgrade instead of a replacement.

MA, there are always rules. I’m not advocating anarchy but reduction of the number and scope of rules that do bind us. Don’t you think there are unnecessary rules in our lives?

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