The Truth about Bath Salts

On your way home, you decide that the only thing that can take away the stress of your day is a long, hot bath. But you used the last of your bath oil a few nights ago, so you stop by your local pharmacy. Meandering down the bath aisle, you see the perfect remedy: bath salts. You scan the label and see ‘not for human consumption’ listed as the only warning and know that won’t be a problem; you only plan to pour them into your bath water, not drink it. Wrapping up your purchase, you head home; completely unaware you have potentially purchased one of the newest forms of a homemade drug.

What are ‘Bath Salts’?

Synthetic stimulants are being processed and packaged so they mimic traditional bath salts. With the inclusion of the warning label, the manufacturers of these lethal drugs are able to avoid regulation from federal drug authorities. They can be sold legally in stores, gas stations, and even smoke shacks. Most of the time, they are packaged under common brand names, including:

  • Blue Silk
  • Blizzard
  • Charge+
  • Ivory Wave
  • Ivory Snow
  • Pure Ivory
  • Ocean Burst
  • Purple Wave
  • Snow Leopard
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Vanilla Sky
  • White Knight
  • White Dove
  • White Lightning

The reality is that these fake bath salts are actually more deadly than they appear. The most common ingredient in these is Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which is also known as MDPV. Each variety also contains their own ingredients that often include Mephedrone and derivatives of Methcathinone, all of which are pharmaceutically and structurally similar to Methamphetamine. Additional ingredients often include insecticides, fungicides, and chemicals used to kill algae. These bath salts can be crushed and snorted through the nose like cocaine, smoked, heated and injected, or mixed with the user’s favorite drink.

The Commonness of Bath Salts

Because these harmful drugs can be purchased legally, many teens and college students fall under the false assumption that they are not dangerous. Unfortunately, they are just as deadly, if not more, than illegal narcotics that are bought from street dealers. A simple search on YouTube provides almost 100 instructional videos teaching others how to use bath salts to achieve ‘the ultimate high.’ Over 250 calls were made to emergency and poison control centers in a two-month period in 2011. During that same two-month period in 2012, more than 1000 calls were recorded. The more well-known this drug becomes, the more it is being used. Efforts are being made nationwide to permanently ban the drugs at the national level. The products have already been banned in twenty-seven states. In September 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced a temporary ban on bath salts, both for possession and selling. The temporary ban will remain in place while they study a possible permanent ban on Mephedrone, Methylone, and MDPV.

Effects of Bath Salt Usage

When ingested in any fashion, bath salts are stimulants of the central nervous system. They react similarly to methamphetamines and cocaine. This double reaction causes the brain to produce extra norepinephrine and dopamine, flooding the system with dopamine-like methamphetamines does and locking both chemicals in the brain like cocaine, which then keeps the user in a prolonged high (something cocaine cannot achieve). Users report a variety of effects, including:

  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heart rates
  • Reduced motor control
  • Seizures
  • Violent episodes

Unfortunately, bath salts have not been in use long enough to accurately track long term side effects. However, early studies indicate possible brain damage as well as potential long term psychosis.

Dangers of Bath Salts

As with all drug usage, ingesting anything not meant for human consumption runs a severe risk. Because of the newness of this drug, many emergency rooms and hospitals are still struggling to find adequate treatment for individuals who have and continue to overdose. Many instances have been reported of standard drug treatments not working. Patients have woken from sedation only to revert back into a state of psychosis. Violent suicides have been reported, as have the numbers of fatalities. A recent spate of cannibalistic type behavior has been reported in several states and Canada.

Differences Between Current and Traditional Bath Salts

If you scan the market aisles today, you will still be able to purchase bath salts, even with the temporary DEA ban. The difference between those being sold and those being banned is in the ingredients. Traditional bath salts typically include natural ingredients such as sea salt, oils, and water. They are safe to use and are not considered to be the type of product that should be removed from the house.

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