Air Force Fears New ‘Drug Craze’

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In the past 12 months (2010-2011) there has been a wealth of news coverage on a new brand of synthetic drugs called bath salts. These drugs come in a powdery or crystal form and cause effects similar to cocaine, PCP, and ecstasy. The sale and distribution of these drugs are currently legal. The U.S. military was giving their input on the powdery and crystalline substances in an internal “criminal intelligence bulletin.” Military medical professionals have been quoted stating the dangers of bath salts and their fears of its movement into the military, specifically the Air Force.  The November 2010 report from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations sated that bath salts “appear to have been designed to circumvent existing drug laws and are potentially harmful.”  The Air Force has reported how many drug cases they have had throughout this and the past year, but they do not document which type of drug the cases involve.

Officials at Nellis Air Force base have noted a rise in cases of the drug used within the area. These psychoactive drugs are highly dangerous, causing side effects compared to those of such drugs as methamphetamine and cocaine, including hallucinations, panic attacks, and psychosis, while remaining undetectable on drug tests. The fear that Air Force women/men will begin using these drugs on a high level has caused the Air Force Warfare Center Commander to ban the substances, thus making any use of Bath Salts a career ending move. If soldiers are found using Bath Salts they will be dishonorably discharged. The Air Force believes that these drugs pose a great risk to the users and those around them.  The user and the rest of the community are at risk because of the extended period for which the drug takes effect. Individuals are able to seriously harm themselves when taking Bath Salts and do not remember doing so. While on Bath Salts men/women do not feel the pain, and thus are more likely to cause harm to themselves or others. At least twenty-eight states have banned the chemicals in bath salts.


Sources: “Air Force Fears New ‘Drug Craze’” Nick Turse, AlterNet, September 2011,

“Bath salts hurt physical, mental well-being” Senior Airmen Michael Charles, Nellis Public Affairs, August 2011,

“ ‘Bath Salts’ drug causes concern” Scott Prater, Schriever Sentinel, May 2011,‘bath-salts’-drug-causes-concern/

“Bath Salts: A dangerous new drug trend” Investigator Nicole M. Boucher, AFOSI- Hanscom Air Force Base, September 2011,


Student Researchers: Taylor Wagner and Ben Brandstatter

Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley Ph.D.

Evaluator: Jeffery McCall Ph.D., Communications

DePauw University