Tox Tuesday: Bath salts

BathSalts_BlueNot to be confused with products such as Epsom salts—which are sold to help relieve stress, pain and constipation, among other bodily ailments and have no drug-like properties—“bath salts” are a synthetic cathinone product taken for the user to feel good, and to increase sociability and sex drive.

Synthetic cathinones first appeared in markets in the mid-2000s, first being reported in Europe in 2005, and springing up across the world in the years since. Synthetic cathinones are related to cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant that is also an active component in khat.

Bath salts are often sold in powder form and are typically swallowed, inhaled or injected. The most popular designer cathinones found in these products are mephedrone and 3–4 methylene-dioxpyrovalerone (MDPV). Methylone is another product that is becoming increasingly popular.

Those who have ingested bath salts have reported agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness and depression, among other symptoms, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. While the drug is taken for that feel-good sensation, it can have a harmful affect on the body through rapid heart rates, chest pains, nosebleeds, nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, a 2013 article from Forbes cited studies that said bath salts were more additive than methamphetamine.

In July 2012, President Barack Obama signed legislation making mephedrone and MDPV and other related chemicals illegal, followed by campaigns across the U.S. to deter the use of the drug. Mephedrone was banned in the United Kingdom in 2010. Previously, these drugs had been considered “legal highs” as they had been sold and labeled as “bath salts,” “plant food” and “not fit for human consumption” to avoid drug abuse legislation.

However, the banning of these products has not stopped their usage as many still take them illegally, or similar versions emerging in the markets.

Usage in the U.S. hit a peak in 2011, with more than 6,000 calls received by the American Association of Poison Control Centers involving bath salts. The numbers seem to have fallen in recent years, with an estimated total of 600 exposure reports expected to be received in 2014.

Additionally, the drug is still working its popularity around other parts of the world. For instance, Australia has found that different forms of ban on the drug just seems to drive the evolution of the drugs available in order to skirt legislation.

Studies have proven that bath salts have similar hallucinogenic effects to that of cocaine or methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or other amphetamines. And, like all drug abuse, not all side effects are pleasant. A 2012 study showed that various cardiac, psychiatric and neurological problems could arise from an adverse effect, becoming so potent as to cause death.

In the United States, bath salts are considered a Schedule I substance, which is reserved for substances with a high potential for abuse. The European Union banned bath salts in 2010, combining legislation from individual countries into a continent-wide ban.

For more information on Neogen’s drug detection products, including those for new psychoactive substances, click here

Comments are closed.