What Is The Drug, Bath Salt?

By Tony Bylsma

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.