Though commonly referred to as “bath salts,” these synthetic drugs are far from a relaxing addition to your daily bath. Also known as Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky and Bliss, bath salts are a collection of synthetic chemicals that people can use to get high. They are a powder that is typically white or yellow in color.
The drug is manufactured with a combination of chemicals that are ever-changing. Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a common chemical derivative found in seized bath salts. MDPV is similar to cathinone, a compound that also exists in methamphetamine and khat.
According to the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act that was passed in July 2012, bath salts are illegal. Enforcing a ban on this drug is difficult because several of the various chemicals used to produce it, are legal. The Act outlined 26 chemicals that are illegal for use.
Bath salts are titled as a Schedule I drug. This means the drug has no medical purpose and has a high probability for abuse. Other examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. There are five categories of drug schedules, with the Schedule V drugs being the least addictive (but still having potential for addiction). Schedule II drugs, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, are legal, but have a high potential for addiction.
Bath salts can be snorted, injected and/or swallowed, but are particularly mixed with different foods and drinks. In September 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued its first warning about bath salts, stating that they would be “scheduled” or put on the illegal/controlled substances list.
Prior to the drug’s illegal status, bath salts were sold in convenience stores and smoke shops, labeled as “legal cocaine.” Although the packaging was marked as, “not fit for human consumption,” people began using them to get high.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 560 calls relating to the exposure to bath salts were recorded between January and September 2015. A majority of the calls involved users between the ages of 20 and 29. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), bath salts are 10 times more potent than cocaine.
Bath salts have been shown to have a similar addictive potential to meth abuse, according to Drugs.com. Often times, users build up a tolerance to the drug, resulting in the need to increase their intake in order to reach the same satisfactory high. This can be dangerous because not all bath salts have identical components. Manufacturers may “cut” or mix the drug with other substances, which can increase the risks for overdose and adverse health symptoms.
The side effects of bath salts are very similar to those of methamphetamine and MDMA, or Molly. They stimulate the central nervous system and release large amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This can lead to serious consequences.
Bath salts can cause severe symptoms when taken. Their use has been associated with the following side effects:
Using bath salts has also resulted in suicidal thoughts and behavior. These thoughts are said to last several days after a person has used bath salts.
Because bath salts are a fairly new drug and its chemical makeup is constantly altering, there is little knowledge about its addictive potential and long-term effects. The short-term impacts have been the cause of concern for law enforcement agencies and medical facilities.
While there are currently no treatments that reduce the symptoms of withdrawal from the use of bath salts, a healthcare facility may administer medications in attempt to lessen the violent and paranoid symptoms that users often experience. Individuals with a severe addiction to bath salts who also suffer from a mental illness or who have previously relapsed after seeking treatment, may benefit from inpatient treatments. The detox process for bath salts can take several days.
In addition to detoxing, treatment may include counseling and therapy in order to better assist a person in breaking free from their mental addiction to bath salts.
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