Dangerous Stimulants Disguised as Bath Salts

A new designer drug being sold as “bath salts” is the latest threat to the health and safety of teenagers, young adults and adults with substance abuse problems.

Disguised as a beauty treatment and marketed under a variety of names including

Bath Salts – A “Legal” Alternative to Amphetamines

  • Ivory Wave
  • Purple Wave
  • Bliss
  • Ocean Burst

this amphetamine-like drug is completely legal and can be easily purchased in many convenience stores and head shops as well as over the Internet.  A small packet costs as little as $20.

The effects of smoking, injecting or snorting this powdered drug are so serious that the federal government’s drug czar has spoken out against it.  According to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “At a time when drug use in America is increasing, the marketing and sale of these poisons as ‘bath salts’ is both unacceptable and dangerous.”

The bath salt drug is actually a combination of 2 new synthetic stimulants – MDPV and mephedrone.  These drugs produce changes to the nervous system and brain similar to cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy or LSD.  The drugs are highly addictive and can bring on intense cravings after only a few uses.  Increased abuse of these drugs has led to a sharp increase in calls to poison centers across the country.  A total of 236 calls related to legal bath salt drugs were made to poison centers in 2010 compared to 251 calls in January of 2011.  This is only the tip of the iceberg since many users never seek medical treatment after using the drug.

Symptoms and side effects of “bath salt” use include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme irritability
  • Agitation
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Chest pains
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Heart attack and stroke

As information about this legal stimulant spreads across the Internet, several states are moving to outlaw it.  Legislation banning the drug has been introduced in Michigan, Louisiana and Hawaii and other states are following suits.  In Los Angeles, California, a city council member is calling for a city ban on bath salt stimulants.

The Washington Post recently reported the story of a Mississippi man named Neil Brown who slashed his own face and stomach with a hunting knife after ingesting bath salts that he obtained over the Internet.  Brown, who claims to have tried a variety of drugs including heroin and crack, survived his wounds.  He was so frightened by the hallucinations he experienced that he has gone public to warn people about the dangers of legal bath salts.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration currently has no jurisdiction to regulate the distribution and sale of MDPV and mephedrone.  According to Gary Boggs, a DEA executive assistant, the process to bring these designer drugs under DEA jurisdiction could take years.

Recovering from substance use disorders is a challenging journey that feels more doable in an environment that tends to each individual’s complex needs and strengths. Our goal is to foster a treatment experience that is built on compassion, hope, and caring, and fueled by excellence in the provision of evidence-based and trauma-informed care.

– - Anonymous