Bath Salts Use Linked to Paranoia, Overdose and Suicide
Use of so-called “bath salts” won’t do anything for your skin but these potent synthetic stimulants can put users in a state of paranoia that leads to an overdose or even suicide. Bath salts are the latest designer drug, and the small packets of powder are readily available and still legal in most of the United States.
Bath salts are sold online and in convenience stores
Packets of the deadly bath salts say “Not for human consumption” and tell consumers that the powder should not be used as snuff. But these warnings apparently have served as invitations for those who want to experience the stimulatory effects of the drugs in these powders, which act on the neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that regulate signals between the cells).
The ingredients in these products labeled as “bath salts” typically include mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), and users either snort, inject, or smoke the powder. These chemicals can cause paranoia, hallucinations, a dangerously rapid heart rate, and suicidal thoughts.
Although a recent search on the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s website did not turn up any information on bath salts, that will likely change in the near future as the number of individuals, mostly young people, turn to this drug. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, their centers took 235 calls related to the use of bath salts in 2010, but there have been 214 calls, or about 8 per day, already in 2011.
According to Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, individuals who have taken bath salts have shown up “off the wall. Some of them looked like a true psychotic break,” he was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. Louisiana has had the most cases of bath salts poisoning.
After more than 160 cases related to bath salts were reported in Louisiana, the state’s Governor, Bobby Jindal, instituted an emergency ban on the chemical ingredients, and law officers confiscated packages of bath salts from stores around the state. The state Legislature needs to act to make the ban permanent. Other states, including Florida, North Dakota, Mississippi, Kentucky, and others, have already banned or are taking steps to ban bath salt ingredients.
The drugs in bath salts are made from a substance called cathinone, which is derived from an African plant. Both MDPV and mephedrone are made in a lab, and although the Drug Enforcement Administration has listed MDPV and mephedrone as chemicals of concern, they are still legal at the federal level and in states where they have not been banned.
In Mississippi, Neil Brown took bath salts and then repeatedly slit his face and stomach with a skinning knife. Brown survived, but others have not been so fortunate. In Louisiana, Dickie Sanders III experienced intermittent psychotic episodes and then shot himself in the head after snorting “Cloud Nine” bath salts.
The bath salts have already been banned in Britain, Ireland, and other countries. In the United States, it remains to be seen how many more cases of paranoia, overdose, and suicide will occur before they are banned in the states. Even when they are banned, experience tells us that the overdoses and suicides will still go on.
Los Angeles Times, Jan 28, 2011
Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2011
Image source: Flickr