LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - (KTRE) - Law enforcement says "bath salt" is a dangerous alternative to meth and cocaine, but doesn't show up in drug screens. It's sent three people to the Burke Center Mental Health Emergency Center.
"They're pushing a lot of people over the edge, much more so than meth," said Sergeant Allen Hill, Angelina Co. S.O. Narcotics.
Hill is talking about a legal substance people use to get high.
"They put it in a pipe and smoke it like meth," said Hill.
It's been growing in popularity, despite dangerous side effects.
"Recently, we've admitted three different individuals that came to us directly as a result of having consumed what's called bath salts," said David Cozadd, Burke Center Director of Operations.
Cozadd says "bath salts" induced psychotic episodes. The patients had to be treated at their Mental Health Emergency Center in Lufkin.
You don't have to worry about real bath salts causing a psychotic break, but a chemical compound known as MDPV.
"It's not like you go to Wal-Mart and the stuff you in put in bath," said Hill.
Just like "K-2", the synthetic marijuana marketed as incense, "bath salts" is actually a synthetic stimulant.
"Gives people a heightened sense of alertness, euphoria but also contributes to an agitated state, paranoia, hallucination, suicidally," said Cozadd.
Hill says it's sold at smoke shops, convenience stores and online.
"These kids will see it and say I'm going to try that now. Just a bad choice," said Hill.
A bad choice since Cozadd says its long-term effects are unknown.
"If anybody comes along and tries to offer you something they call bath salts - you don't want to take it," said Cozadd.
For now, law enforcement's hands are tied.
"We're just waiting on the Texas Legislature when they give us some laws to deal with this issue, we'll deal with it at that time," said Hill.
In the meantime, beware of these new designer drugs.