A new designer drug known as “bath salts” has become increasingly popular, yet at the same time increasingly alarming. Poison centers across the U.S. have reported growing numbers of calls about the synthetic stimulant, and more and more states are banning the drug. But as of now, there is no federal law prohibiting their sale. The name bath salts are very misleading; these are not bath salts like those you would use in your bath. The powders often contain Mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV, and can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts. By marketing them as bath salts and labeling them “not for human consumption,” they avoid being categorized as illegal and therefore fall outside the scrutiny of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Bath salts have recently come under significant federal scrutiny because the effects of these salts are comparable to methamphetamine abuse, according to poison control centers.
Newer derivatives are being made by illegal street chemists. Nobody really knows what is in most of these products because there is no way to test these substances. Bath salts are found in mini-marts and smoke shops and are being sold with names like Ivory Wave, White Lightning, Hurricane Charlie, Down2Earth, White House, Kamikaze and Bolivian Bath.
According to Dr. Nora D. Volkow the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “These drugs are typically administered orally, by inhalation, or by injection, with the worst outcomes apparently associated with snorting or intravenous administration. Mephedrone is of particular concern because, according to the United Kingdom experience, it presents a high risk for overdose. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes touted as cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high abuse and addiction liability. Consistent with this notion, these products have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also confer a high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of "bath salts" are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous.”
The use of bath salts has become so alarming that The American Poison Control Center says they received 251 emergency calls about bath salts in January 2011, which is more than they got all of 2010. There also have been several reports of users dying from overdoses, or suicides or accidents fueled by the drug. Since bath salts are not regulated, the content differs from manufactures and street chemists. A user may take it one day and be fine, then take it another day and die.