After just one use, some have reported an addiction to the substance known as bath salts. They're a synthetic designer drug made by illegal street chemists. The drug was formerly sold legally in U.P. head shops in packets labeled as bath salts--not for human consumption.
The mysterious power inside the packets isn't bath salts at all, but its label allowed creators to get away with legally selling the drug until August. By that time, the drug had already taken hold of many users.
We spoke with one woman about how she overcame her addiction. She wanted to remain anonymous, so for the purposes of this story, her name is 'Jane Doe.'
"It makes it hard for me to breathe; it sends you into, like, a speed mode. It's just addicting," said Jane Doe.
Bath salts were not Jane Doe's first experience with hard drugs. She'd been addicted to crack cocaine for more than a year, struggling with post-partum depression after giving birth to her first child at 17 years of age.
When she lost custody of her three children, she turned to bath salts.
"I lost the main reason to me being alive. Somebody came over, I watched them inject it, and they got extremely high," she said. "I wanted to try it, then I began doing it every single day for weeks upon weeks."
Describing her addiction as "disgusting," she said she was simply living to chase a high that she only enjoyed for a few moments, merely tolerating the side effects.
"I was hallucinating--I thought my dog was talking to me, I thought people were peeking in my windows," she said.
Her addiction spun further out of control; she continued to use even after she was taken to the hospital for an overdose. Finally, she hit rock bottom.
"I had been using the bath salts for days on end, then I got into a very bad car accident," Jane Doe said. "I was so close to death, the police told me I shouldn't be alive."
After two months of incarceration, she willingly entered herself into rehab. Now she says she's eight months sober, working one day at a time to get her life back.
"My children, they deserve a mother that's sober and going to be there for them," she said. "I'm going to fight for them, not just let them go."
Local health professionals and law enforcement officials say there are dozens of stories like Jane's out there. Bath salts are said, by users, to be more addictive than meth and cocaine.
Physicians say that's difficult to treat.
"There's a war on drugs in their brain; the part that says you shouldn't use and the addicted part driving you to use," said Dr. John Lehtinen, MD of Addiction Medicine. "It's very difficult to manage this; there's not a lot of experience in finding medications that would be effective."
For Jane, everyday is a struggle, but she says it does get better.
"Waking up in the morning without having to use within five minutes, I can move and not be sick. That's the best feeling in the world," she said.
Unfortunately, bath salts cause sudden death and some users are not able to recover.
In part four of our series, Thursday on your Early News at 6 p.m., we'll speak to a man who lost a family member to this dangerous drug.