If you’ve watched the news or picked up a newspaper in the past year or so, chances are you’ve heard about bath salts, the latest drug craze to sweep the nation. No, people aren’t smoking or snorting the lavender scented crystals you find at Bed Bath and Beyond. Bath salts are an extremely dangerous synthetic stimulant/hallucinogenic drug, similar to a derivative of amphetamines that are legally and cheaply available in many states.
Bath salts – sometimes labeled as plant food – are sold (where legal) under innocuous-sounding names like Ivory Wave or Vanilla Sky in convenience stores, truck stops and specialty shops, and labeled as “Not for Human Consumption.” The labeling of this dangerous substance keeps it free of regulation, but at least 28 states, including Maine, New Jersey, New York and Florida, have outlawed the substance due to increased reports of abuse.
What Are Bath Salts?
Bath salts ingredients are usually a combination of two chemicals, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), which are chemically related to the illegal substances in ecstasy and meth. The U.S. has banned both mephedrone and MDPV (although not yet permanently) and they are illegal in most of Europe and Israel. The problem is that the substances, the actual bath salts, made with these chemicals are legal- meaning they can be sold anywhere. Retailers, mostly head shops and specialty stores, still sell them in packets for about $20 to $50 each.
What Do Bath Salts Do?
Bath salts can be snorted, smoked, injected or even dissolved in water and drank as a beverage. In theory, bath salt users expect to achieve a high similar to that of ecstasy, with heightened senses and sexual arousal, combined with the euphoria and increased energy associated with stimulants like cocaine.
However, while on paper bath salts combine the “best” of other types of drugs, they actually lead to terrifying side effects and powerful bath salts addiction in most cases. With side effects ranging from heart palpitations and profuse sweating to intense paranoia, and in some cases, uncontrollable rage, bath salts generally don’t produce the desired results.
The problem is that because the chemicals in bath salts aren’t regulated – and are relatively new, meaning they have not been extensively researched – users don’t know what they are actually taking. Officials say that they aren’t sure how the chemicals in bath salts will react with other drugs and alcohol, meaning that the side effects are then unpredictable. And because some dealers are creating their own bath salts in unregulated laboratories, the drug may not even be what it’s advertised. Instead of mephedrone or MDPV, the bath salts ingredients could contain meth, prescription drugs or much worse.
In any case, doctors and law enforcement are concerned about bath salts, the stories of growing bath salts addiction, and users having extreme reactions are increasing – and terrifying. For example:
- A young woman nearly scratched herself to death for several days after using bath salts, convinced there was something under her skin
- A man in Pennsylvania stabbed a priest while on a bath salts high
- An Indiana man climbed a flag pole and jumped into oncoming traffic while on bath salts
- Many users have died, either because of dangerous behavior while under the influence or health problems brought on by the drug
Doctors say that the effects of using bath salts are difficult to treat. The drug does not show up on drug tests; the only way to know for sure if someone is using bath salts is if they tell you. When patients arrive in emergency rooms under the influence and experiencing psychotic episodes, it often takes many doses of powerful sedatives to calm the patient.
In some cases, the paranoia and psychosis can last for days or even weeks. And while one may think that such a horrible bath salt trip would prevent users from ever trying the drug again, bath salts are highly addictive and those suffering from bath salts addiction have such intense cravings for the drug that they immediately use again even after seeking medical treatment for the drug’s effects.
What To Do
Like any drug, the best way to avoid the effects of bath salts addiction is to not try them at all in the first place. Educate your children about the dangers of using bath salts, stressing that any chemical substance is unsafe to ingest without a doctor’s supervision.
Using bath salts is becoming a growing trend, and the danger and seriousness of bath salts addiction cannot be understated. As awareness grows, however, and new laws ban their manufacture and sale, the hope is that reported cases of bath salts addiction and abuse should decline. That doesn’t mean, though, that the problem can be ignored; awareness and education of the issue are of the utmost importance.
This Post was written by Ricky Stanton on behalf of www.4rehabilitation.com. Ricky has over 10 years of experience working in a crack addiction recovery program, and hopes to continue to help educate others about the dangers of drug and alcohol addictions.