By Valerie A. Kremer, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (NNS) -- Navy Medicine announced the launch of a new informational video and poster regarding the health risks and dangers of the synthetic amphetamine known as "bath salts" and other designer drugs, Dec. 20.
The public service announcement video and poster will be distributed for display throughout the fleet and are available for download at http://www.med.navy.mil/Pages/Syntheticdrugs.aspx.
The new media products focus on the dangers of bath salts and are part of the long-term awareness and deterrence campaign Navy Medicine launched last year on synthetic and designer drugs. This effort is also part of an overall Navy communications plan with partners at the Naval Personnel Command and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and other commands.
The education and awareness campaign from Navy Medicine supports the Navy's zero-tolerance policy on designer drug use, as well as highlights the real and present risks of bath salts. The campaign's goal is to decrease the number of active-duty service members who use designer drugs like bath salts and the synthetic marijuana "Spice" because they are falsely marketed as a "legal" way to get high.
According to Navy Medicine psychiatry resident Lt. George Loeffler at the Naval Medical Center San Diego,, the adverse health effects from bath salt use can range from lack of appetite to kidney failure, muscle spasms, severe paranoid delusions, and psychosis. Several cases of long-term inpatient hospitalization and suicide have been reported and Loeffler has firsthand experience treating service members at Navy military treatment facilities with these symptoms.
"I would say not just as the naval officer, but as your doctor, bath salts will not only jack up your family and your career, it will jack up your mind and body too," said Loeffler in the PSA now available online.
The Bath Salts campaign's slogan, "Bath salts: It's not a fad...It's a nightmare," reflects the hallucinogenic effect of bath salts, which are a non-regulated designer drug comprised of a synthetic cathinone, or amphetamine, that can have a dangerous or debilitating effect on the user.
"As the leader of the medical community for the Navy and Marine Corps, I cannot emphasize enough to our Sailors and Marines that using synthetic drugs really is just like playing Russian roulette with their health, not to mention their career," said Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general said in an editorial written for the Union Tribune in San Diego earlier this year.
The bath salts campaign further supports the Navy Surgeon General's mission for all commanding officers and others in positions of leadership to be fully engaged in their command's implementation plan to continually communicate and educate all hands as to the Navy's zero-tolerance policy on designer drug use.
"The U.S. military represents a microcosm of our much larger population and in many ways strives to be a reflection of the society we serve, so we share many of the same health and safety issues as the general population, including the increased use of these dangerous and debilitating drugs - which not only affect our service members' health, but also our readiness as a military force," said Nathan.
"For nearly two years now, Navy leaders have taken a multitiered approach to combating this escalating issue in our forces, and with our partners in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Naval Personnel Command and throughout our naval enterprise, we have made progress in deterring and detecting use."
Nathan affirmed that the Navy will continue to highlight the issue of synthetic drug use by delivering sustained and targeted messages throughout the Navy and Marine Corps.
"We cannot over-communicate this issue," said Nathan. "Accountability for those who abuse these substances will help deter their use."
Navy Medicine is a global health care network of more than 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.