What Is The Drug, Bath Salt?
Marketed under various names,
including, "Bath Salts", "Ivory
Wave," "Purple Wave," Vanilla
Sky," and "Bliss", the drug,
MDPV has been the cause of
numerous emergency room
visits and thousands of calls to
the Centers for Disease Control
and Poison Control Centers over the last couple of years.
Bath Salts is actually a powerful stimulant that also has
hallucinogenic properties. A relatively new psychotropic
drug, it reportedly creates effects similar to other
stimulants such as wakefulness, rapid heartbeat,
reduction in appetite and anxiety.
However, this substance causes other, more worrisome
and dangerous effects such as psychotic delusions,
thoughts of suicide and violent behavior.
Are they really for the bath tub?
No, they're not. They are labelled that way to avoid legal
restrictions. Each packet is even clearly marked with,
"Not For Human Consumption", making it difficult to
classify them as drugs. But the real purpose is definitely
substance abuse. These packets contain various drugs,
including the compound 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone
(MDPV) or 4-methylmethcathinone (mephedrone). A
dangerous designer drug, MDPV is popular with teens
and some in the military because it doesn't show on drug
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control,
between November 2010 and April 2011 in one county in
Michigan, 35 persons who had ingested, inhaled, or
injected "bath salts" visited a Michigan emergency
department. Among the 35 patients, the most common
signs and symptoms of toxicity were agitation (23
patients [66%]), tachycardia (22 [63%]), and delusions/
hallucinations (14 [40%]). Seventeen patients were
hospitalized, and one was dead upon arrival at the ED.
So how can a product as apparently dangerous as this
be sold legally to the public?
Any product sold in the United States that is classified as
a drug must be approved by the Food and Drug
Administration. The product is then classified according
to criteria such as likelihood of abuse, it's addictive
potentials or any possible medicinal value. Then it can be
sorted into one of several categories.
When a substance does not pass review along these
guidelines, they are classified in the Schedule One
category. These substances are not legal for any
But what if it's NOT a drug? What if it is only an additive
for the bath tub? Now special legislation is needed to
outlaw it. This is the case with several of these new
substances of abuse, bath salts is only one. Another is
called "Spice". Also known as K-2, spice is a drug that is
labelled as incense in order to bypass legal requirements
of a drug.
Many states have passed emergency legislation to
outlaw these specific chemicals, but the makers just alter
the compounds slightly, just enough to again slip through
the legal nets.
Our best bet in the fight against these tactics is simply
this, make the public aware of the dangers and very real
consequences of using these chemicals. If enough truth
about bath salts and spice or whatever comes next is
pumped into the environment, repeatedly, we'll see this
latest and nearly craziest drug fad fade away and
become a joke like "smoking banana peels" became
back in the '60s..
Tony Bylsma CCDC, is a rehabilitation counselor and
drug prevention speaker in Los Angeles, CA.