Bath Salt Abuse Facts & Statistics
“Bath salts” are the street name for a family of designer drugs created from synthetic cathiones, which is similar to cocaine and amphetamines. There is no legitimate medical use for synthetic cathiones. Consequently, these drugs are falsely labeled “bath salts”, “plant food” and “insect repellant” in order to conceal their true identity from law enforcement authorities.
How Bath Salts Work
Synthetic cathiones work by stimulating the central nervous system. These drugs activate the user’s norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitors. Physical side effects of bath salt abuse include loss of appetite and elevated blood pressure. Bath salts cause an elevated level of agitation and aggression, causing users to become a safety risk to those around them. These physical and psychological effects typically last between 3-4 hours or 6-8 hours, depending on how much of the drug has been consumed.
Health Risks Associated With Bath Salts
Bath salt abuse puts users at risk for serious health problems. These health risks include swelling in the brain, increased risk for heart attack, and coma leading to death. Bath salts increase the body temperature, which causes muscle breakdown and kidney damage.
Mental health risks associated with bath salts include:
- auditory and visual hallucinations
- extreme paranoia
- increased wakefulness
- intense panic attacks
- extreme anxiety
Despite these serious physical side effects, bath salt users report a powerful psychological need to continue using the drug once the initial euphoric effects have worn off.
While drug designers claim that synthetic cathiones create effects similar to cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA (ecstasy), little is known about their exact pharmacology. Contents of bath salt packages is rarely consistent. They generally contain at least one of the following six chemicals:
- Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)
- Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone, 4-MMC)
- Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Methylone, MDMC)
- Fluoromethcathinone (Flephedrone, 4-FMC)
- Fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC)
- Methoxymethcathinone (Methedrone, bk-PMMA, PMM)
Cost of Bath Salts
The price of bath salts ranges from $25 to $50 for a 50-milligram packet. They are typically sold as a pure white or brown powder that is labeled “not for human consumption.” However, bath salts are also available in a liquid and crystal form, and may also be sold as a tablet or capsule.
Popular names for “bath salts” include:
- blue silk
- Hurricane Charlie
- ivory snow
- ocean burst
- pure ivory
- purple wave
- red dove
- snow leopard
- vanilla sky
A Plain Deadly Drug
Bath salts are a relatively new designer drug. In 2009, there were zero calls placed to Poison Control Centers regarding bath salt abuse. Since 2010, however, Poison Control Centers have received 2,237 bath salts related calls from 47 states and the District of Columbia. On December 21, 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers issued the first warning about bath salts abuse.