When a man in Miami chewed off a homeless man’s face earlier this year, bath salts were blamed, and the previously little-known drug hit the headlines around the world.
While it may sound innocuous, 'bath salts' is the name given to a mixture of synthetic chemicals, which are difficult to detect in drug tests and until recently could be sold legally in shops across the United States.
But the catalogue of violent behaviour and mental instability among people addicted to them is growing.
Nick Lazaredes meets families whose lives have been torn apart… some describe the change in behaviour and personality of their loved ones as like losing them completely.
And it’s a challenge too for the police… as one chemical composition is identified and outlawed, another emerges, and law enforcers are finding it difficult to keep up.
WATCH - Dateline investigates this latest drugs craze.
WHAT ARE BATH SALTS? - Read the US Drug Enforcement Administration's factsheet about bath salts and their effects.
NICK MAKES THE NEWS - While Nick was filming in New York State, he was featured in a report on the local TV news about the worldwide interest in synthetic drugs. Watch the story.
Photo (bath salts): AAP
On air: 21st August 2012