Bath Salt Drugs: A Quiet Epidemic that has Law Enforcement on its Toes

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What’s even worse than doing anything to get high is finding legal, justifiable ways to do it. Bath salts are one of the newest drug fads that users are going after, especially because they can justify their abuse since many of the drugs they are ingesting are legal. The street names for bath salts include Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky and Bliss. Bath salts contain synthetic chemicals that are similar to the ingredients found in methamphetamines. They are found in small foil packets that are often labeled with “not for human consumption.”

What are Bath Salts?

Are bath salts the Epsom salts that we use in the bathtub? No. There are also some rumors that bath salts can be jewelry cleaner, plant food or electronic cleaners, but the salts are none of these things. They are, in fact, a group of chemicals that are being mixed together by street chemists. Some of the ingredients may be illegal, but many are legal, making it easier for addicts to rationalize what they’re doing.

To make matters worse, we have a cat-and-mouse game going on. For instance, when an ingredient found in bath salts is deemed illegal, street chemists will move on to a new mixture of chemicals that produce the same effects but include legal chemicals. This battle goes on and on, making it increasingly difficult to know what’s in bath salts and how to test for them.

As for today, bath salts most commonly include mephedone, methylone and methylenedioxypryovalerone (MDPV). In July 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act made it illegal to possess, use or distribute any of the chemicals used in bath salts, but there are still other chemicals out there that are being used that we are not aware of. The current act only covers 31 chemicals. What people are struggling with most is that because these chemicals are difficult to test for, we know little about the path of bath salt addiction, such as if these ingredients are addictive, if they counteract with other drugs and if they have toxic effects that will plague their users later in life.

Effects of Bath Salts

Why do people take bath salts in the first place? The effects from these drugs include hallucinations, delusions, strength and hyperactivity. Users also report feelings of euphoria and alertness. They are often not hungry while on the drug, and they may have dilated pupils, increased body temperature and nosebleeds. The high tends to last for three to four hours, but users may experience a rapid heartbeat and an increase in energy after this time.

There are also negative reactions, such as extreme agitation and hostility. In fact, some emergency rooms have reported that patients were admitted into the hospital from bath salt intoxication with cuts and bruises from trying to kill unseen monsters. There have also been reports of users having panic attacks. The ingredients in bath salts may also lead to sleep-deprivation psychosis since the stimulants in the drug disrupt healthy sleep patterns.

While the negative side effects from bath salts certainly may not sound enticing for the average person, a drug user is rarely concerned about what will happen after taking the drug. Instead, they are chasing the high. What’s worse is that the illegal street chemists making these drugs seem to keep one step ahead of law enforcement, so emergency rooms struggle to keep up with what’s in these drugs and what types of reactions users may be suffering from.

Bath Salt Abuse Cases on the Rise

In 2010, 304 calls were made to poison control centers regarding bath salts, but the following year in 2011, there were over 6,000 calls made. The data for 2012 was slightly lower since many of the chemicals in bath salts have been made illegal, but trips to the emergency room as a result of bath salt abuse are on the rise. There have also been frightening stories of people committing suicide or causing harm to others because of their state of mind while on bath salts.

At The River Source, we see firsthand the effects that bath salts have on their victims. These drugs are especially scary because we often don’t know what’s tucked inside the little foil packets. They look innocent enough, and users feel that their use is justified compared to shooting up heroin or sniffing cocaine. Yet bath salts are very real drugs with very real consequences, and they lead to emotional, mental and physical effects, as well as death, injuries and violent behavior. If you or someone you love is addicted to bath salts, get the help that is needed from The River Source. Your life is too important to give up on.