Media accounts of ‘flesh-eating zombies’ and people performing other bizarre actions while high on a drug called ‘bath salts’ – is it a mistake or urban myth? No, these bath salts (not the same ones you use when bathing) are a ‘designer drug,’ created in a lab, and this particular formulation causes people to experience delusions and paranoia, which can result in harm to themselves or to others.
Bath Salts Drug: Not for the Bathtub
‘Bath salts’ is the street name, but this drug, which can take on a number of forms and formulas, is also called a variety of other names such as Bliss, Blue Silk, White Lightning, Cloud Nine, Meow Meow, Snow Leopard, Plant Food, and many more.
Bath Salts are synthetic cathinones, and act a bit like a cross between amphetamines (“speed”) and psychoactive drugs (like LSD). Referred to by the FDA as “designer drug of the phenethylamine class,” the drug causes a wide variety of physical and mental effects including: paranoia, suicidal thoughts, violent behavior, hallucinations, increased heart rate, increase in blood pressure (hypertension), chest pain, and even death – it’s easy to overdose on bath salts, due to the differences in dosages, and the potent effects of the chemicals. They’re also highly addictive – a dangerous combination.
Decoded Science had the opportunity to interview Sergeant Bryan Anderson of the Palm Springs Police Department of Riverside County, California. Decoded Science asked Sergeant Anderson what challenges the police force face with this new drug. Sergeant Anderson replied, ”It is a very new drug, so we aren’t sure of all the side effects that this drug can have; however, it does make people very aggressive and violent, which is an issue for police officers who deal with these people.”
Dangerous Bath Salts Trend
Are bath salts becoming more of a trend in the United States? The American Association of Poison Control Centers, reports that in 2010 there were 302 calls regarding bath salts. In 2011 poison control centers took 6,138 calls that pertained to the use of bath salts. As of May 2012, they have received 1,302 calls regarding bath salts, which seem to be more popular in people ages 20 to 29.
Bath Salts: This Drug is Harmful
Bath salts not only cause harm to the user, but possibly to other innocent people as well due to the violent and paranoid behavior of the user. Since there is no accepted formulation for the drug, it could come in any dosage, any concentration, and with any of a dozen different ingredients, so each use of the drug brings the risk of overdose. In addition to the toxicity of the drug, it’s also highly habit-forming, which increases the frequency of use. The combination of toxicity and addictiveness makes bath salts a truly dangerous drug.
Coppola, M., Mondola, R. Synthetic cathinones: Chemistry, pharmacology and toxicology of a new class of designer drugs of abuse marketed as “bath salts” or “plant food”. (2012). Toxicology Letters. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Fact Sheet. (2012). Accessed September 17, 2012.
American Association of Poison Control Centers. Facts About Bath Salts. Accessed September 17, 2012.
Whitehouse.gov. White House Drug Policy Director Convenes Federal Agencies to Discuss Threat of Synthetic Drugs, a.k.a “Spice” and “Bath Salts”. (2011). Accessed September 17, 2012.