"A Miami man fatally shot by police after he refused to stop gnawing on another man's face may have been under the influence of a new form of the 1960s hallucinatory drug LSD, a top police officer said on Wednesday." So reads the Reuters account of the ghoulish May 29 incident that made national headlines—most of them inaccurate. The account quotes Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police saying: "We've had at least two incidents in the past couple of months with people claiming they took a new form of LSD and complained of feeling a burning sensation that forced them to take their clothes off and led them to become very violent." This is all nonsense. LSD is an acronym for a chemical formula; there is no such thing as a "new form" of lysergic acid diethylamide. So what is going on here?
Georgia's WSAV adds to the confusion, but at least provides a clue, with its (inaccurate) headline "New Form of LSD/Bath Salts Cause Severe Delirium." It quotes a medical doctor (presumably from a Miami-area emergency room, although this is not explicitly stated) warning that cocaine and LSD can cause "delirium"—but then suddenly switches halfway through the article to blaming "bath salts" in the grisly attack—with no explanation.
New York magazine's Daily Intel blog uses these fuzzy allegations for some Reagan-vintage generic anti-drug alarmism, concluding: "Not becoming a flesh-eating zombie is my anti-drug."
After considerable searching, we finally found one account that actually explains the source of the confusion, although it engages in its own distortions. From CNN's health blog, The Chart:
What would make someone attack another man like an animal? Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, suspects that the attacker was under the influence of drugs known as "bath salts."
...Bath salts contain amphetamine-like chemicals such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and pyrovalerone. They’re referred to as a “designer drug of the phenethylamine class” by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Other drugs in this class include amphetamines, mescaline, and ephedrine. MDPV comes in a powdered form that is inhaled, swallowed or shot into a vein. Bath Salts are sold as "cocaine substitutes" or "synthetic LSD".
OK, so (as we suspected) LSD isn't to blame here at all; MDPV is. And "synthetic LSD" is a redundancy, since all LSD is synthetic (it was created in a laboratory in 1938). What the account really means is that bath salts containing MDPV are being sold as bogus LSD, and bogus cocaine. Anyone with half a brain ought to know to stay away from that. But anyone who has ever done real LSD knows that (while it is a powerful substance to be treated with respect) it does not turn you into a flesh-eating zombie! Please! It is amazing and demoralizing how ubiquitously distorted the media coverage of this affair has been. Please post and forward this widely to set the record straight!
Image of LSD molecule from Wikipedia