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Bath Salts: This Is Not Your Grandpa’s Epsom Salts

Synthetic Cathinones, Known as Bath Salts, Take Their Toll Across America

In talking with some friends recently, I learned of a new drug that could have serious unintended consequences. In fact, it could be deadly.

While I realize I may be behind the curve of pop culture and “what’s going down” on the street as it were, I felt strongly compelled to spread the news about this threat.

What I’m talking about here are “Bath Salts.”

That’s right. But, this is not the mineral bath salts we add to our bath water to simulate the positive effects of bathing in a hot spring. Nope. This drug is a synthetic designer drug that has similar effects to those of cocaine or methamphetamine.

They are called Bath Salts because the physically resemble the type of legitimate bath salts with use for bathing. But, they are nothing alike.

Believed to have started in the UK as a Club Drug, bath salts have been such a concern here in the US that President Obama signed into law an amendment to the Federal Drug Policy to ban bath salts on July 9, 2012.

Bath Salts are synthetic cathinones. Cathinone is a chemical found in a plant called Catha Edulis. This plant, commonly known as Khat, is indigenous to parts of northern Africa and Arabia.

The synthetic form of cathinones takes on many names that vary chemically from one and other. Nevertheless, they all do essentially the same thing.

Synthetic cathinones like mephedrone or MDVP produce effects similar to amphetamines whereby the brain is set awash in the naturally occurring chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin to name a few. However, the volume of these chemicals induced by synthetic cathinones sometimes produces ill effects on the user.

Paranoia, violent tendencies, and other bizarre behavior have been reported, including suicide.  

Physiologically, the drug can bring about headaches, nausea, increased tolerance to pain, cardiac failure and liver failure. Body temperatures as high as 107 have been reported in users. This can be especially dangerous during the summer months or in places where the climate is hot.

In such conditions, high body temperatures coupled with high ambient temperatures can lead to the deprivation of oxygen to vital organs.

In addition to the health concerns, violent and bizarre behavior, by their nature, often summon emergency personnel.  Unintended encounters with police and fire personnel have left tragedy in the wake of this relatively unknown drug.

Recently, a Vallejo man was shot by police when he pointed a rifle at an officer. A woman in Munsville NY, after trying to choke her three year old son, was pepper sprayed and tasered with no apparent effect before dying of cardiac arrest.  

The drug is often sold commercially under many names and is even available on line. However, since many states and the Federal government have banned it, it is becoming less available through so called legitimate sources.

I realize these kinds of drugs come and go on a regular basis. Look at all the variations of ecstasy that have been around. Still, it’s important that we talk about these sorts of issues. Some may disagree, but I believe this is a threat to our community and loved ones.

While many may be aware of this so called Club Drug, many do not. I would urge everyone to include this issue in conversations with the youth in particular, and with our friends and relatives in general.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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