Teen Angst

Helping adolescents deal with anger and other emotions effectively

Bath Salts—the New Designer Drug

Unregulated and dangerous, the popular drug with teens and young adults.

A few weeks ago a story hit main stream media about a cannibal attack in Miami. On May 28, police shot a man who was found eating a homeless man alive, consuming approximately 75% of his face. What on earth would drive someone to such gruesome insanity?

According to police the answer could be found in bath salts. No, I'm not talking about your everyday bath luxury; this type of bath salts has nothing to do with bathing and everything to do with a highly addictive and deadly substance. And just who's consuming bath salts? Teens and young adults, of course. While nothing has been officially released pointing to this drug, based on the evidence of this terrible crime, Miami police suspect bath salts were the culprit.

What Are Bath Salts?

Bath salts are comprised of two synthetic compounds, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (say that three times fast) aka MDPV. The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration was alerted to their presence in 2009 when they showed up in lab tests on substances seized by law enforcement officers in six states. Mephedrone and MDPV are stimulants that act much like Methamphetamine and Cocaine, but produce the added effect of hallucinations.

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A bath salts packet contains white crystalline powder, and they're labeled with warnings like "novelty only" and "not for human consumption." While being marketed as your typical luxury bath salts, of which they are not, they are being sold under the names: Red Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, White Lightning, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, and many others. Even though they are labeled "not for human consumption" health officials report that bath salts are being injected, smoked, crushed and snorted like cocaine and even put into beverages.

Where Can You Get Them?

Bath salts aren't hard to find in states that haven't banned them. They can be found on the Internet, in convenience stores, and in smoke shops. They are relatively inexpensive and sell for about $25 to $50 a packet, or as I found in my internet search you may be able to find a buy one get one free.

What Are the Side Effects?

Experts report that the psychotic side effects of these highly addictive bath salts can mirror those of LSD, Ecstasy, PCP, Cocaine, and Meth, and include the following:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Intense Cravings
  • Seizures
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Chest pains
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Death

Currently, little medical research has been done on bath salts and so far they've not been tested on humans. The medical community isn't 100 percent certain how these compounds are metabolized or how they react with other drugs. Since the ingredients in bath salts aren't listed on the package, users have no idea what they're ingesting. Scary reality!

Are They Illegal?

According to the website of a bath salts manufacturer, certain products marketed as bath salts are banned in all states. Another website stated that it's only banned in 20 states (this number is going up daily). And in some states bath salts are completely legal, depending on the product's chemical makeup.

Currently bath salts are the subject of a federal bill that would outlaw synthetic marijuana (Spice or K2) and MDPV, mephedrone, and possible methylone (the main compounds found in the drugs). The bill is sitting at the House for negotiation after passing the Senate in May. Hopefully, we'll have a national ban soon.

Just over the border, our neighbors in Canada are also working to make the bath salts drug illegal.

Crazy Things Done by Users of Bath Salts

Not that eating off another man's face isn't wacky enough, here are just a few other stories related to the use of bath salts:

•A bath salts user planned to surgically remove his liver with a mechanical pencil.

•A man who was experiencing hallucinations from bath salts barricaded himself in his attic with a gun in preparation of a monster assault. For three days he waited for the attack and then shot himself in the head.

•There was reportedly someone high on bath salts back in December who broke into a house and redecorated the Christmas tree.(Can you believe it? Imagine waking up on Christmas morning with your tree completely re-arranged!)

•A man high on bath salts broke into a home and damaged two vehicles because he thought he was being chased by electricity.

•A woman, reportedly high on bath salts, relieved herself on a $30m painting in an art gallery.

This video is a 911 call being made by a young man high on bath salts, it shows different types of new drugs on the market (Spice) and concludes with a video of the young man.  His behavior speaks for itself:

Conclusion

So as you can see this isn't the same relaxing and soothing "bath salts" you put in your bath water. No, these are dangerous drugs that can be highly addictive. Teens and young adults are gravitating to these easy-to-access drugs. Unfortunately, bath salts are so new that the long-term effects are unknown. But one thing is certain; "bath salts" are a risky new drug that can and has led to death. So take some time to talk with your teen about the dangers associated with bath salts and remind him or her of the risks. The good news is that there is a movement to pull this stuff off the shelf for good!

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., L.P.C., is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens.

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