By Brian Bujdos
There’s a new, disturbing trend among those who like to experiment with the latest, legal way to get high. Powders known as “bath salts” are causing hundreds of calls to Poison Control Centers across the U.S. The bath salts are said to be as powerful as abusing methamphetamine or cocaine.
Three weeks ago, the state of Louisiana outlawed, by emergency order, the main active components of bath salts – mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV. This act was performed by Gov. Bobby Jindal after Louisiana Poison Control Centers received 125 calls regarding the abuse of bath salts between October and December of 2010. Louisiana authorities linked two suicides to bath salts.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the ingredients of bath salts are not those that would commonly be used in baths. In fact, the substances are sold under various brand names, most of which sound anything like a relaxing soak, including White Lightning, Cloud 9 and Hurricane Charlie.
Although the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has listed MDPV as a drug of concern and is studying the drug, the agency currently has no plans to ban the substance. Therefore, bath salts will continue to be readily available in outlets that include convenience stores, smoke shops, gas stations and various websites. The powder is available for just $25 for a half gram in some places.
It is commonly known that MPDV stimulates the central nervous system. The DEA says that the chemical can cause intense panic attacks, psychosis and addiction.
Hallucinations are also commonly associated with bath salts.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that one man in Mississippi took a skinning knife to his face and slit it repeatedly while on bath salts.
A doctor in Florida reported that he has seen teenagers do stupid things they would not normally do while taking bath salts – things like jumping out of a third-story window into a swimming pool.
Although many people may be looking for an energy boost when taking bath salts, they can get much more than that. The Sacramento Bee reported that one woman stayed awake for days after taking the powder (a phenomenon often associated with methamphetamine). Now, the woman says, she is afraid to even touch the substance.
Kentucky and Mississippi have begun the process of banning bath salts through legislation, and the pharmacy board in North Dakota has added some chemicals contained in bath salts to its banned-substance list.
Although the pockets of abuse are currently widespread for bath salts (more than half the calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers were placed in Louisiana), it seems more and more states will be confronting the issue of what to do about the substance. It could take the DEA several years to ban the substance, which the United Kingdom did in April after linking bath salts to numerous deaths.
In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, gave her take on bath salts…
“It makes people lose touch with reality,” she said. “They’re ending up in psychiatric institutions.”