The so-called “gravel drug” is the latest synthetic drug to appear in the United States, Tennessee officials say.
Deputies in Church Hill arrested six people recently after they were found selling the drug, which is small and crystal-like.
Officials started finding it around six months ago and are trying to find out who is bringing it into the country, reported WKPT.
Hawkins County chief deputy Tony Allen told WATE that the drug looks like salt, comes in different colors, and mostly comes in powder form.
Most of it is mail ordered and transported in by vehicles or shipped in, he said.
The drug is usually a mixture of bath salts and either methamphetamine or Klonopin, according to Dr. John Mettert, an emergency department physician at Bristol Regional Medical Center.
Bath salts is a term used to describe a number of designer drugs that usually contain substituted cathinones, such as mephedrone, but also often include other synthetic drugs mixed together. Calls concerning bath salts to poison control centers in the United States have notably skyrocketed over the past several years.
An inmate at the Sullivan County Jail told the broadcaster that people ingest the “gravel drug” by snorting it, injecting it, or smoking it.
“Gravel is the new crack,” he said, noting that he found it to be superior to other drugs.
The drug makes people paranoid, the inmate said.
Emergency room physician Dr. Jon Mettert told WATE that the drug damages the brain, raises blood pressure, and spikes the heart rate.
“The real bad side effect of taking at the doses most people take it in is the paranoia. We’ve actually seen people become paranoid. People committing suicide from the paranoia.”
He called it “probably the most dangerous drug” he’s seen in 15 years of emergency room medicinal experience.