Addiction specialists suspect that so-called "bath salts" may be playing a part in an outbreak of crimes committed by naked people across the United States and even in Canada.
Mephedrone, the active ingredient in “bath salts,” is a synthetic stimulant that users say makes them feel energized and confident. It intensifies the pleasure associated with hearing music and is therefore popular in nightclubs, at concerts and at “raves.” At toxic levels, however, the drug reportedly causes intense confusion and sometimes violent rage, spikes in body temperature and hallucinations.
After a series of recent crimes in Arizona, police began to see a pattern.
"I wouldn't approach naked people running around the streets of Phoenix," Phoenix Police Sgt. Eric Wyckoff told Fox 10.
"Generally speaking, if you run into a naked man out here, we found there's usually some kind of illicit narcotic on board," he added.
Dr. Ravi Chandiramani, an addiction specialist at Sundance rehabilitation center in Scottsdale, said that he has seen bath salt addiction skyrocket this year.
"It's different than anything else we typically encounter because it's almost like having cocaine, ecstacy, LSD or acid or amphetamine in one substance," Chandiramani explained.
"And I think why you're seeing people do crazy things on the news is because it's causing them to act in a psychotic fashion," he observed. "So they are having hallucinations, agitation, they're taking their clothes off from perspiring so much, they're prone to violence."
Here are just a few of the crimes in the last month involving naked people suspected of using bath salts:
- June 5: Broward County, Florida woman blocks intersection, exposing her vagina, breasts and buttocks.
- June 11: Naked Miami man tells 3-year-old girl, "Hi pretty girl, I want to stick it in you."
- June 12: Naked woman from Munnsville, New York punches kids and strangles dog.
- June 14: Half-naked Georgia man threatens to eat police at golf driving range.
- June 15: Texas woman crashes car, strips and eats ice cream in Houston.
- June 16: Naked Illinois man surfs on car hood.
- June 17: Naked woman fights with hospital staff in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
- June 20: Miami man breaks into house, strips naked, throws furniture and bites man.
- June 20: Police in Phoenix, Arizona fish a naked man out of Tempe Town Lake where he had been illegally swimming for an hour.
- June 23: Naked woman in Utica, New York tries to eat a cop.
- June 26: Naked man in Calgary, Canada found smashing his head on a fence.
- June 29: Naked Scottsdale, Arizona carjacking suspect causes multiple accidents and then crawls on car roof and sings.
- July 1: Venice, California man dry humps the air while completely nude.
- July 4: Man wearing no pants crashes moving truck into Phoenix house.
Watch this video from Fox 10 Phoenix, broadcast July 5, 2012.
FOX 10 News - Phoenix, AZ | KSAZ-TV
-- With earlier reporting by David Ferguson