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Bath salts is a type of recreational drug that is sold across the US which has no medicinal value and highly-addictive. Referred to as synthetic cathinone, the stimulant drug is derived from the khat plant. A native shrub in East Africa and Arabian countries, the shrub acts as a stimulant drug. People often chew the leaves of the shrub to get an extra boost of energy in their daily work routine.

The drug is considered as a highly toxic chemical and can generate serious mental and physical health damage. The medical community grows concern about the number of cases reported associated with bath salts in emergency rooms and poison control center incidents.

Street names of Bath salts:

  •    Vanilla sky
  •    Bliss
  •    Bloom
  •    Blue silk
  •    Ivory wave
  •    Zoom
  •    Purple Wave
  •    Red Dove
  •    White Lightning
  •    Cloud Nine

These drugs consist of chemicals and its commonly reported ingredient methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) structurally similar to cathinone and synthetic chemicals similar to amphetamines.

History of the drug

It was first synthesized in France in between 1928 to 1929 with the original purpose for medical use. However, it was unsuccessful due to its severe side effects such as dependency on the drug. Its abuse was first known during the former Soviet Union in the 1930’s and 1940’s as antidepressants.  

A person takes this drug thru ingestion mix with food, injection, smoking or snorting, and its effects are paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, heart palpitation and suicidal tendencies to say a few. The drug may also cause heart attack, liver attack and kidney failure with further abuse. Which is why in July 2012, the Synthetic Drug Prevention Act made it illegal to use, distribute, or to be possessed. The drug usually states “not for human consumption” in an attempt to go around the drug prohibition laws.

Bath salts drug cannot be smelled by detection dogs and cannot be found in a standard urine test as well. It is mostly disguised as fertilizer, insecticides and glass cleaner.

What makes the drug addictive?

The Behavioral Brain Research Journal conducted a study about bath salts. The study shows that the drug immediately gained popularity as a recreation drug like cocaine and heroin.

Bath salts greatly affect the central nervous system. It over stimulates the brain chemical production resulting to an excessive amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These chemicals can produce psychoactive effects like intense euphoria, which is very addictive to users.

Signs and symptoms

Users often take bath salts in binging occasion in social settings like parties and nightclubs. They usually take it with other ‘party’ drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and ecstasy.

Like other stimulant drugs, signs of bath salts abuse include:

  •    Rapid heart rate.
  •    High blood pressure.
  •    Dilated pupils.
  •    Anxious
  •    Jittery behavior
  •    Insomnia
  •    Increased heart rate
  •    Nausea
  •    Impaired motor skills
  •    Seizures
  •    Severe bouts of paranoia
  •    Depression
  •    Panic attacks
  •    Agitation,
  •    Suicidal thoughts
  •    Bizarre and erratic behavior  because of hallucinations
  •    Violent behavior
  •    Self-mutilation
  •    Loss of appetite

Side Effects of the Drug

Since little studies are done about synthetic canthinones, the extent of the damage in the human brain remains unknown. However, several types of research show how this drug acts like amphetamines and cocaine. Bath salts can produce various effects on the human body.

One of the most bothersome side effects of bath salts abuse involves horrific incidents like cannibalism. While short-term abuse is often associated with:

  •    headaches
  •    palpitations
  •    increased sexual desires (can lead to unsafe sexual practice)
  •    increased chance of acquiring STDs

Long-term abuse of the drug can show manifestation similar to amphetamines. These include:

  •    Malnutrition
  •    Ulcers
  •    Heart problems
  •    Mood disorders
  •    Psychosis
  •    Dizziness
  •    Total loss of coordination

When users snort the drug it often leads to nasal damage. The most common effects include:

  •    Sinusitis
  •    Bleeding nose
  •    Perforated nasal septum

Right now, there is an on-going battle between the sectors of the law to develop a technology that can detect and test these chemicals and street chemist who are trying to be one step ahead of them. Unfortunately, the government will not be able to control on banning this entirely and all we can do is be vigilant to our surroundings and to protect our family and loved ones to keep them away from this drug. Because it will always be lurking in any given day, time and place.

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