Emergency room physicians at Hendrick Medical Center told KTXS Thursday they have seen an increase in "bath salts" drug abuse. Officers at the Abilene Police Department said they are seeing a similar trend.
"The narcotics division and the patrol division are dealing with these issues on a weekly basis," Chief Stan Standridge said.
In October 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a one-year ban on the possession and sale of the most common drugs in bath salts.
But Chief Standridge with the Abilene Police Department said enforcing the ban is not easy.
He said police are often alerted about the drug abuse through disturbance calls since aggression is one of the drug's side effects.
Since the drug is made from synthetic stimulants, it can be easily changed to no longer resemble banned chemicals.
Even more challenging, it's often purposely mislabeled and marketed under several different names.
"When you look at it, there's nothing on there that's gonna indicate it's illegal," Chief Standridge said. "However, it's fairly consistent you see on the package 'not for human consumption.'"
It could also take up to two months for chemical tests to determine what a suspected product is really made of.
"Commercially sold products that will provide accurate field tests are just being provided to law enforcement," Chief Standridge said. "We've purchased some of those."
The bottom line from police: It's hard to tell exactly what users are getting high off of.
"Anybody who's considering the consumption of these is taking a gamble as to what they're actually ingesting or putting into their arm," Chief Standridge said.
Due to the drug's often dangerous side effects, police encourage people to call 9-1-1 if they suspect someone is under the influence of bath salts.
Police said the sale or possession of banned chemicals used to make bath salts can be a felony offense. Those charges could be determined after chemical tests on the drug are verified.
People suspected to be under the influence of bath salts can also be charged with public intoxication.