Alex Seitz-Wald asks whatever happened to the imminent Zombie Apocalypse of face-eating bath salt-crazed Americans, at Salon:
For a moment last year, zombies were real. Local newspapers carried alarming headlines about otherwise normal people turned into face-eating cannibals, Hulk-like murderous berserkers, and psychotic naked rampagers. It was all thanks to “bath salts,” a new synthetic amphetamine that, despite its innocuous name, scientists said was more potent and addictive than meth. It reached a fever pitch after initial reports suggested a Florida man high on the drug chewed off a homeless man’s face. Experts braced for the apocalypse, local news anchors warned of a craze sweeping the country, and parents cowered in fear as it seemed like anyone’s innocent son or daughter or brother or husband could be the next Mr. Hyde.
And then, all of a sudden … nothing.
A year later, usage has plummeted and the drug that once had a gripping public mythology has almost completely fallen out of the discourse. While you can still find occasional headlines about bizarre bath salt-induced rampages, they’re fewer and farther between, and there are no more “Today” show segments or Dr. Phil specials. In the past six months, there have been zero mentions of the drug on MSNBC, one passing reference on CNN, and two quick jokes made about it on Fox News, but no segments or interviews on any cable networks. “By late 2012, the tide has mostly receded,” explained Peter Reuter, a longtime drug policy researcher at the University of Maryland and RAND.
Here’s what Google searches for the drug look like since 2011.
Indeed, the data from calls to poison control centers tell the story of a drug craze that came and went like a flash in the pan. “Bath salts,” a synthetic cathinone with effects similar to amphetamines or cocaine, first appeared in 2009, according to the DEA, as a legal drug often marketed as “plant food” and labeled “not for human consumption.” It could be found in gas stations, head shops and convenience stores, and was sometimes sold without the owners even understanding what it was…
[continues at at Salon]