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Article Summary

Bath Salt Statistics

  • Bath salts are synthetic cathinones. The effects of this drug are similar to amphetamines, ecstasy or cocaine depending on the dosage and usage. Users refer to bath salts as "complete crank" or "fake cocaine." It is a psychoactive drug with stimulant properties. Synthetic cathinones act on the user's norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitor and are central nervous system stimulants. The effects from bath salts can last from 3-4 hours or 6-8 hours depending on how much the user takes. Users report the urge to re-dose after their initial dose but often quickly lose interest in taking more of the drug due to the unpleasant side effects brought on by higher doses. It is chemically similar to cathinones (a Drug Enforcement Agency Schedule 1 controlled substance) that occurs naturally in the Khat plant (Catha Edulis). Other synthetic cathinones include: MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone (which have been identified by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations in illicit "bath salt" products) in addition to N-methylcathinone (also known as methcathinone or cat), 4-fluoromethcathinone (also known as flephedrone or 4-FMC), as well as 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (also known as methylone, MDMC, bk-MDMA, or M1).

Effects of Bath Salts

  • The physical health risks of bath salts include: cerebral vascular accidents (CVA) or strokes, coma, death, decrease in appetite, diaphoresis (sweating), dizziness, elevated blood pressures, extreme tachycardia, headaches, kidney failure, myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), seizures, shortness of breath and swelling of the brain. The mental health risks of using bath salts include: agitation, anxiety, auditory and visual hallucinations, euphoria, extreme paranoid thoughts, increased wakefulness and arousal, increases in alertness & awareness, perception of a diminished requirement for food and sleep and prolonged and intense panic attacks and anxiety.
  • The National Drug Intelligence Center refers to synthetic cathinones as products that are packaged and marketed as authentic commercial products for beauty, home or relaxation i.e. bath salts, herbal incense, plant food, plant fertilizer, insect repellant, pond cleaner and vacuum fresheners. The price ranges from $25 to $50 per 50-miligram packet. Bath salt users range in age from teens to adults in their 40's (these adults often have a history of past drug abuse).

Bath Salts Slang Names

  • These synthetic cathinones are sold under the names: Bliss, Blizzard, Blue Silk, Charge+, Hurricane Charlie, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Star Dust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight, White Rush, and White Lightening. These products come in a variety of different forms: powder, crystal, liquid, tablet and capsule form. Drug users will take the substance is many different ways: ingest, inhale, inject, smoke, insufflate (snort), dissolve the substance in water then atomize and inhale it or once dissolved in water they will apply it directly to their mucus membranes (putting drops in their eyes or spraying it into their nose).
  • Statistics on bath salts show that in September of 2010, the San Luis Obispo, CA Sheriff's Department noted that two 15-year old boys became very ill after taking bath salts thinking that it was MDMA (ecstasy). The university student who sold the teens the drug was arrested and charged with child endangerment for selling a narcotic drug to adolescents. The University student's mother was later arrested for signing for a 2 pound package of mephedrone (an active ingredient in bath salts) from China delivered by the United States Postal Service.
  • The first warning about synthetic cathinones abuse (referring primarily to bath salts) was issued on December 21, 2010 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. At that point over 156 "bath salts" related calls had been placed, 85 of them from the state of Louisiana.
  • Also in Louisiana, 84 people are reported to have been hospitalized due to taking bath salts and experiencing paranoia, fighting, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and physical effects such as hypertension and rapid heartbeat. As of the end of September 2010, the Louisiana Poison Control received 165 calls from people suffering ill effects after consuming (snorting, smoking or injecting) bath salts. The bulk of these calls, 85% came from emergency room physicians or first responders caring for the ill drug user. The 165 calls made to the Louisiana Poison Control represents 57% of the total number of calls going into the American Association of Poison Control Centers during 2010. The state that received the second highest number of calls (23 calls during 2010) for people suffering ill effects from taking bath salts was Kentucky. This means these crises calls about bath salts are seven times more likely to be made from the state of Louisiana than any other state.
  • The death of a 21-year-old Kansas man is speculated to be the result of taking bath salts. In 2010 the man jumped in front of a vehicle on I-35 close to Salina, killing himself. It was later revealed that he had bath salts in his system at the time of his death. This is not the only instance of people hurting themselves after taking this drug. Another tragic death attributed to bath salts is the death of 21-year old man who shot and killed himself just 3 days after sniffing "Cloud 9", another name for methylenedioxypyrovalerone.
  • In 2009, there were no calls regarding bath salts made to the United States Poison Control Centers. Then in 2010, there were a total of 302 calls about bath salts to the United States Poison Control Center. The most recent bath salts statistics from the National Drug Intelligence Center shows that between January 1, 2011 and May 12, 2011 the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 2,237 bath salts related calls from 47 states as well as the District of Columbia.
  • In January 2011 the Centraila, MO Police Department arrested 3 men for selling 1/8 ounce of "Bliss" (bath salts) mixed with meth for $200 to an undercover police officer.
  • Bath salts and other synthetic cathinones have been banned in the United Kingdom and several other countries including Israel, Australia and Canada. Here in the United States, Kentucky has already filed legislation to ban the substance and North Dakota's Pharmacy Board has added many of these same chemicals to the North Dakota banned substance list.

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