Los Angeles County health officials warned Tuesday against the use of bath salts — the designer drug involved in a series of bizarre incidents and arrests — just one week after a new study charted a skyrocketing number of calls to U.S. poison control centers about the drug.
The relatively new drug has been known to provoke hallucinations, paranoia and uncontrollable violent outbursts, officials said.
"Bath salts are very dangerous and, in many cases, we don't really know what's going into this drug," L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan Fielding said in an interview after issuing the warning.
In July, President Obama signed a federal ban on the drug's three active ingredients and halted smoke shops and gas stations from selling bath salts. The drug remains available, however, online and through the black market.
U.S. poison control centers have seen a drastic increase in calls related to bath salts during the last three years — zooming upward from zero in 2009 to 6,138 calls last year, according an analysis of American Assn. of Poison Control statistics presented at the American Osteopathic Assn. conference last week.