If you heard the term ‘bath salts,’ you might think of the little crystals you put into your bath that makes the water smell nice. However, bath salts is also the name of a synthetic cathinone, a human-made drug that is a synthetic version of the chemical cathinone. Cathinone is a drug similar to amphetamines. This chemical is a stimulant found in the khat plant, a shrub plant native to Africa and Arabia. Chewing the leaves give people a mild stimulant effect, but in its synthetic form, the high that is produced it is far more potent and deadly.
Bath salts are part of a group of drugs that are unregulated psychoactive substances. They’re often sold under names such as “bath salts,” “jewelry cleaner,” or “plant food,” or in drug paraphernalia stores under the names of “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Red Dove,” or “Blue Silk.” These drugs were created to mimic the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. No one really knows what the chemical composition of these drugs are, but more often than not, they contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV or ecstasy), mephedrone and pyrovalerone.
These drugs are still relatively new on the American drug scene, and so the short-term and long-term effects of them are still largely unknown. However, they’ve had an effect: In 2010, nearly 300 calls to the poison control were due to people suffering from the effects of bath salts abuse. By 2011, that number had risen to over 5,000. In 2011, nearly 23,000 emergency room visits were due to bath salts.
Effects of Bath Salts Abuse
Synthetic cathinones both energize and agitate the body, raising a person’s heart rate and blood pressure. Bath salts symptoms also include:
- Increased sex drive
- Panic attacks
- Extreme agitation coupled with violent behavior
- Kidney failure
- Degradation of muscle tissue
Since bath salts raise people’s temperatures, they often take off their clothes while using them. Sometimes their temperatures rise so high, it can kill them.
Bath salts are still so new that it’s hard to determine if people can have an addiction to bath salts. People do tend to have intensive cravings for the drug, however. Some of the long-term or permanent effects of bath salts include:
- Kidney damage and failure
- Liver damage
- Skeletal muscle tissue breakdown
- Brain swelling or death