Bath Salts: Not For Your Average Soak

Either addicts are getting more creative or illicit drugs are being used to make run-of-the mill products, either way, the new drug being marketed under the moniker “bath salts” is disturbing at best. These “bath salts” are legally sold at head shops, convenience stores (I swear, they’ve gotten more and more risque with their last-minute “must-haves” sold at the counter!), and of course, on the street. Honestly, when I saw the news articles on this earlier this month, I thought it must be a farce. It’s not. In Michigan alone, at least 18 adults went to the ER after using this drug!

       {Image by LilyBaySoap via Flickr}

So, what are bath salts? Well, they aren’t the common salts you find in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, that’s for sure. Rather, these are marketed under names like “Ivory Wave,” “Aura,” “Zoom 2,” “Zeus 2,” “Cosmic Blast,” and “White Rush” and sold off the beaten path, no questions asked. These designer bath salts contain a synthetic chemical called Methylmethcathinone or Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP). Essentially, what you get is a powerful high with a simultaneous period of psychosis, coupled with an insatiable craving for more.

“Bath salts” produce effects similar to Ritalin when taken in small doses or cocaine if taken in larger doses. The effects of this drug can cause an increase in heart rate, chest pains, dizziness, delusions, panic attacks, nose bleeds, and nausea. And then there’s the hallucinations, which are rumored to be terrifying. Not terrifying enough, though, because apparently the pull of the drug is such that the user clamors for more despite their negative experience while under its influence.
Being a new designer drug, all the physical warning signs aren’t known yet, but since it’s not dissimilar to amphetamine and hallucinogenic use, I would suggest keeping your eyes peeled for similar erratic behaviors such as paranoia, weight loss, dilated pupils, and of course, the ubiquitous small plastic baggies.

Addiction Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Doesn’t Mean Safe

Sometimes marketed as incense or an herbal smoking blend, synthetic marijuana is readily available for teens via the internet and some drug paraphernalia shops.  Rather than banning the products themselves (Spice, K2, Blaze, and Red X Dawn), the FDA is seeking to ban the 5 chemicals used to create the herbal blends. The FDA wants to place the chemicals in the same category as heroin and cocaine, due to increased reports of  seizures, dependency of poison centers, hallucinations, hospitals, and law enforcement as a result of its use.

Synthetic or not, it’s still a drug, and it still has the potential to contribute to one’s addiction issues. Sprayed with psychotropic chemicals, this herbal and spice mixture is touted as providing users with an elevated, meditative state, similar to the effect found with marijuana use. However, instead of the alleged mellow effects sought by its users, the statistics show high reports of heightened blood pressure, high levels of anxiety, seizures, nausea, severe agitation, and hallucinations.  While more testing is needed, findings suggest this drug is effecting not only the cardiovascular system, but also the central nervous system of its users. In plain speak: it’s dangerous.

Are you worried your kid might be using? If so, you might want to look for dried herbs in unlikely places…their room, for instance, or their backpacks. What does a teen really want with something that looks like oregano, right? You can also look for some of these physical signs:

  • Agitation
  • Pale appearance
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion.

It’s good the FDA is taking a stance on this–between the ease of availability and the implication of harmlessness, we place our kids and ourselves at heightened risk for the long-term, negative effects of yet another drug.

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