If You Use Drugs, You Might End Up Eating Someone's Face

Discussing methamphetamine in my book Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, I note that in the 1990s "the demon drug proved so irresistible as an explanation for otherwise inexplicable acts that its presence could almost be assumed if a crime was sufficiently heinous." Nowadays the quasi-legal meth substitutes known as "bath salts" serve much the same function, as illustrated by the case of the allegedly drug-crazed "Causeway Cannibal." On Saturday, Miami police say, an officer shot and killed 31-year-old Rudy Eugene on the MacArthur Causeway as he viciously attacked 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, but not before Eugene had chewed off much of Poppo's face, including his eyeballs and nose. (Surveillance cameras captured some of the fight as well as the shooting.) Even if Poppo, who is in "extremely critical" condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital, survives to give his account, we are never going to get a satisfying explanation of Eugene's actions. Yet Armando Aguilar, president of the local police union, tells WFOR, the CBS affiliate in Miami, he is pretty sure that "bath salts," which he confusingly describes as a substitute for LSD rather than meth, made Eugene do it:

"We have seen, already, three or four cases that are exactly like this where some people have admitted taking LSD and it's no different than cocaine psychosis," Aguilar said.

In the cases Aguilar mentioned, he said the people have all taken their clothing off, been extremely violent with what seemed to be super-human strength, even using their jaws as weapons.

"Extremely strong, I took care of a 150 pound individual who you would have thought he was 250 pounds," Aguilar said. "It took six security officers to restrain the individual."

WFOR—which gave the online version of its story the headline "Causeway Cannibal Identified; Fears Grow Over Drug Possibly Involved"—also quotes a local emergency room physician:

Emergency room doctor Paul Adams agreed with Aguilar, saying similar cases have showed up in the ER.

"We noticed an increase, probably after Ultra Fest [an electronic music festival]," Dr. Adams said.

Adams said the new LSD is commonly called "bath salts." The drug, Adams said, can raise a person's body temperature to such a high degree that logic and the ability to feel pain are lost; then delirium sets in and that often leads to disaster.

"We've had several deaths," Dr. Adams said. "Earlier last year, we probably saw our first death from bath salts where people were running on the MacArthur Causeway, under the MacArthur Causeway being chased by the police and then all of the sudden just collapsing."

To my mind, collapsing while being chased by police is not "similar" to stripping naked and gnawing off someone's face, but never mind. Even without the benefit of toxicological tests, Aguilar and Adams conclude that something called "bath salts," supposedly designed to mimic the effects of the psychedelic LSD (which is not usually associated with face gnawing), caused this horrifying outburst of violence by producing a state of mind "no different [from] cocaine psychosis."  WFOR adds that "unlike the original LSD," this new one "is a stimulant." 

The Miami Herald is more cautious, noting toward the end of its story that "an emergency room doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital said Eugene’s attack could have been induced by bath salts, a drug nicknamed after the bathroom product it resembles." Exactly what substance this might be is not clear: The Drug Enforcement Administration has banned three stimulants commonly used in these products, while proposed federal legislation names a dozen more, and even that list presumably is not exhaustive. Then again, the Herald says, "Police theorized earlier that it was 'cocaine psychosis,' a drug-induced craze that bakes the body internally and often leads those it affects to strip naked to try to cool off." Imitation speed, ersatz LSD, cocaine, whatever. They're all drugs, right?

Stories about potions that transform people into irrationally violent monsters with superhuman strength have been associated with various chemical agents over the years, including cocaine, PCP, meth, and even marijuana. As I show in Saying Yes, they say more about the fears underlying prohibition than they do about the psychoactive effects of these substances. Even if traces of one or more officially condemned intoxicants are found in Eugene's blood, his actions were so anomalous that it makes little sense to describe them as a consequence of drug use, let alone an indicator of the hazards facing the typical user.

More on "bath salts" here.

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  • cryptarchy||

    Bath salts? is that what they're calling PCP these days?

  • Agammamon||

    No, not everyone. Just dumb-arse cops who should be in the position to know what effects the drugs they get paid to inderdict actually have.

  • SIV||

    "He was probably on PCP. Broke every bone in his hand and wouldn't feel it for hours. There was this guy once, you see this scar? "

  • ||

    "Hey Buddy, you got a dead cat in there or what?"

  • ||

    "Phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range."

  • ||

    "Get out."

  • db||

    "Hey pal, just what you see."

  • ||

    "Your mama."

  • Brandon||

    I didn't understand any of that.

  • ||

    I'm taking it as a personal challenge from here forward that when someone uses a movie quote, I will add irrelevant quotes from the same movie.

  • ||

    "The only thing bull semen has ever done for me is activate my gag reflex."

  • ||

    We're quoting from The Terminator, not The Penetrator. Can't you keep your porn titles straight?

  • Pi Guy||

    "Fuck you, asshole."

  • Marshall Gill||

    Doesn't everyone eat someones face when they are on drugs? I know I always do.

  • niobiumstudio||

    Yeah, I had to sell off my Roor because of something like that. A little of that whacky weed put me over the edge. I ate half my roomates leg - then SUDDENLY I came to and realized what a terrible thing the drugs MADE me do. Happens all the time, just like that.

  • Carston||

    Keep prohibiting substances, and society will continue to come up with new substances to get high off of.

    How about we just legalize every substance so people that are gonna find a way to get high no matter what happens, can at least use the relatively safe, well-known drugs.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Because then the law enforcement complex wouldn't need to be, and police/prison guard unions can't have that.

    For them to have a job, we MUST throw over a million people in jail per annum. WHy do you hate cops and their families?

  • Carston||

    "For them to have a job, we MUST throw over a million people in jail per annum. WHy do you hate cops and their families?"

    I hate cops and their families because their income is not attained via a voluntary exchange, their income come from theft/legal plunder.

  • plu1959||

    Keep prohibiting substances, and society will continue to come up with new substances to get high off of.

    Unleash the Jenkem!

  • niobiumstudio||

    So I've heard - 1 part feces for every 2 parts urine, spiced with a dash of vomit is the exact recipe for inducing face-eating delirium.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Even worse is that commenters about this story on HuffPo are ACTUALLY BLAMING INCOME INEQUALITY as the inevitable cause of this dude deciding to eat face.

  • ||

    You eat face!

  • Devil's Advocate||

    Let them eat face?

  • Ska||

    Hahaha very nice.

  • ||

    HuffPo commenters can write well enough to make themselves understood? This is news to me. Every time I go there and read all I get is gibberish. Misspelled gibberish.

  • Sevo||

    "Even worse is that commenters about this story on HuffPo are ACTUALLY BLAMING INCOME INEQUALITY as the inevitable cause of this dude deciding to eat face."

    So shithead infects other boards as well as this one?

  • ||

    Stories about potions that transform people into irrationally violent monsters with superhuman strength have been associated with various chemical agents over the years, including cocaine, PCP, meth, and even marijuana.

    What, no love for gamma radiation?

  • ||

    Don't make Jacob angry, dude. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

    Speaking of The Hulk, I saw The Avengers this weekend. It is quite good, as one would expect from Joss Wheedon. And if, unlike me, you care about superheroes at all, you will probably really, really enjoy it. I merely enjoyed it.

  • ||

    The various nerds at work have told me The Avengers is pretty good. But they also liked Lord of the Rings. Consequently, I have no desire at all to see it.

  • ||

    I will admit I'm getting excited about Prometheus, though. Ridley has shown mostly consistent output over the years. Other than Hannibal. Shit, that was awful.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I was getting interested in it, but the latest trailer made it look like old wine in new bottles.

  • ||

    Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you've got - this year! No more of this old stuff.

  • ||

    Why do you always have to ruin everything? You know, you’re like the A-bomb. Everyone’s laughing, having a good time, and you show up: BOOM! Everything’s dead!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Thousands of years ago, before Sigourney Weaver...

  • ||

    It is quite good, as one would expect from Joss Wheedon.

    You are an insane person.

  • juris imprudent||

    Could be worse, he could've said Michael Bay instead.

  • ||

    Or cosmic rays.

  • ||

    It'll make me eat faces?!?!?!? Holy shit, bath salts sound AWESOME. I gotz to get somes now.

  • juris imprudent||

    Ha, like you've never regretted something you've eaten when you were high.

  • R||

    This is Warty we're talking about. Regret is not an emotion he feels.

  • rts||

    Bill Cosby: I said to a guy, "Tell me, what is it about cocaine bath salts that makes it so wonderful," and he said, "Because it intensifies your personality." I said, "Yes, but what if you're an asshole a cannibal?"

  • Rich||

    Wait'll it turns out Poppo had been bullying Eugene about being black and gay.

  • BakedPenguin||

  • Flemur||

    "new LSD"? What a load, and why is the MSM parroting it? (never mind...)

    The "New Alcohol" would be a lot closer.

  • ||

    Police theorized earlier that it was 'cocaine psychosis,' a drug-induced craze that bakes the body internally and often leads those it affects to strip naked to try to cool off." Imitation speed, ersatz LSD, cocaine, whatever. They're all drugs, right?

    My first thought was the zombie virus.

  • ||

    My first thought was the zombie virus.

    At first blush, that's an understandable assumption. However, the fact that he went for the soft bits on the outside rather than cracking the skull to get to the sweet, sweet brains inside indicates acute bath salt madness (ABSM) rather than zombie virus.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Zombies don't eat brains. If they did, there'd only ever be one because destroying the brain stops them.

  • CE||

    Mine too. Since the mainstream media will never report on the DOD working on the zombie virus, they had to plant the seed for the new LSD/bath salt/super coke/meth/PCB cover story, even before bothering to fake any toxicology reports.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Please people, the CDC assures us there is no such thing as a "zombie virus." As far as anyone knows, ataxic neurodegenerative satiety deficiency syndrome may very well be caused by a bacterium.

  • ||

    This is how it starts. And make no mistake, the zombies are going to win, because the entire law enforcement and medical establishments are going to be busy arguing over which drug is involved, while all around them the undead are proliferating.

  • juris imprudent||

    You can expect a whole lot of "I'm in charge here".

  • Vote yes!||

    Mike Tomlin is eating faces?

  • db||

    With your dude-face eatin' and your bathsalt tongue/
    You get nothin' done.

  • Brett L||

    I like this. Both times. I'll give you props.

  • Nyarlathotep||

    Upon hearing that a naked guy was having an urban freakout, I immediately assumed that Kony 2012 guy was at it again. Didn't they issue a follow-up video, after all?

  • ||

  • ||

  • juris imprudent||

    You SugarFree'ed the link. Now we must all dine on your face.

  • DJF||

    Now I understand why both Obama and Bush have Secret Service following them around all day. They both have used illegal drugs so they could turn into face eaters at any moment and the Secret Service is there to handle the situation.

  • juris imprudent||

    I thought cocaine made negroes rape white women.

  • Chloe||

    That wasn't marijuana? I thought thats why we have this whole stupid drug war.

  • Ann Page||

    Cocaine improves Negro pistol marksmanship

    I read it in The New York Times so it has to be true.

  • WWNGD?||

    The problem lies with the fact the guy was naked. You see if he was naked it means the police found no drugs on him. If the police didn't find any drugs on him the police couldn't take any for their own use.

  • Lincoln||

    "We have seen, already, three or four cases that are exactly like this where some people have admitted taking LSD and it's no different than cocaine psychosis" -- Really? Are there any documented cases of LSD induced psychosis? Delusion and hallucination of course, but psychosis 'from' all drugs is more than fifty percent sleep deprivation in cause. . . speaking from experience btw

  • AlmightyJB||

    Who are people going to believe? The authorities who people who know wtf they are talking about?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Or people who know wtf they are talking about. I hate fucking touchscreens.

  • Repairman Jack||

    How are you defining psychosis? I've seen people try(and succeed) to hurt themselves and others under the influence of hallucinogens on multiple occasions. If you're doing it for the first time, you really should have one or more sober people with you who can physically restrain you if things go bad. Some people just can't handle hallucinogens.

  • oncogenesis||

    Bullshit.

  • Repairman Jack||

    A friend started having paranoid delusions and when he and a few people went outside to get some air, he started to run toward a busy street but was tackled right before he could. After 4 hours of complete silence he started talking again and said that he was stuck in thought loops and was trying to "end an illusion." Another friend suddenly began punching holes in a wall and when confronted he started hitting, biting, and speaking gibberish; he had to be restrained on the ground for 6 hours. He also complained of thought loops afterward. I was there the whole time for both situations. Both people were normal, took cubensis mushrooms, went crazy, and then became normal once the drugs left their system. Also, other people had good trips on the same batches.

    Someone else I know ended up banging on a police car while naked and got shot in the stomach(he died a day or two later). I wasn't actually there for that one but he said he was only going to take cubes.

    Do you guys really think I'm lying?

  • Sevo||

    "Do you guys really think I'm lying?"

    Maybe, but it doesn't matter. I've had crazy 'friends' and they did all sorts of things. Like when didn't ingest anything.
    Do you think you have a point?

  • Repairman Jack||

    My point is that it's a good idea to have friends around that you trust when doing drugs that have such a profound effect your cognition, especially if you've never done them before and don't know if you're sensitive to them. It doesn't even have to be hallucinogens. If you plan to get shit-faced on alcohol or xanax you should have a friend around. Most people end up fine. Some don't. Be safe.

  • Sevo||

    "I've seen people try(and succeed) to hurt themselves and others under the influence of hallucinogens on multiple occasions. If you're doing it for the first time, you really should have one or more sober people with you who can physically restrain you if things go bad."

    Yep, and I've seen people drink a shot for the first time and......
    Oh, the hell with it. What oncogenesis said.

  • Brett L||

    I've seen a guy go crazy after taking several shots of LSD, too. But it was only after the guy failed to sleep for 72 hours. He was fine after they finally got him to sleep regularly. Taking lots of LSD too often made me crazy, too. But it was much subtler. My bad idea filters started failing. But they never made me do violent or dangerous stuff. Just stupid. I've seen one guy get violent, but he settled down after a while. Never, anywhere have I see someone actually endanger their life or the lives of someone else.

  • Pi Guy||

    You've dropped acid and refer to them as "shots?"

    Could be a mistype but seems to undermine your cred in this case.

  • T. Walls||

    "and that is the freezing moment when you realize what you are eating is... a Naked Lunch."

    -William S. Burroughs

  • box_man||

    Problem is, there's no scientific evidence for either sides claim in this debate. Nobody can prove that "bath salts" made the guy eat face, nor can one rule that out just from a passing description. It's entirely possible that the guy did have a psychotic break of some sort from some type of substance interaction with his particular makeup. It's also entirely possible that drugs had nothing to do with it. People can die from something as benign as penicillin for pete's sake. Knee jerk classifications from either side are unproductive in this case.

  • Sevo||

    "Knee jerk classifications from either side are unproductive in this case."

    Maybe, but if you are to claim that "X caused this", it's up to you to prove that claim.
    By comparison, it is *not* up to me to disprove that or any other claim ('god made him do it!').
    You make the claim, you get to prove that claim. Or shut up.

  • sweeterjan||

    ions. Case further argues that even if we http://www.vendreshox.com/nike-shox-r4-c-9.html could become immortal we would regret it. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey concludes he wants to live a very long time so that he can decide

  • Lucy||

    How are you defining psychosis? I've seen people try(and succeed) to hurt themselves and others under the influence of hallucinogens on multiple occasions. If you're doing it for the first time, you really should have one or more sober people with you who can physically restrain you if things go bad. Some people just can't handle hallucinogens.
    I really love club dresses and clubwear dresses at kiwilook.

  • Robert||

    Strange bedfellows: Peter Breggin just got done on Coast to Coast AM saying he thinks drugs caused this incident, probably the bath salts, and taking the opp'ty to say how bad all psychoactives are, claiming marijuana produces psychosis more often than people realize.

    Notice, he doesn't say they should be illegal, even the ones that are currently illegal; he just doesn't bring that subject up.

  • txgypsy||

    after reading this story, i decided to try it to see if it really works[ya kno,4 research]
    how the hell do you get high of this shit????tried to smoke it,snort it, everything but soak a damn tampon.....nothing!!!wifey thinks Im psychotic now for trying and my sweet gramma wants her epsom foot salts back.....now!!!

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