Bath salts are a newly developed category of designer drug. The name derives from the times when the medications were disguised as bath salts. Most often the crystals, white powder, or tiny granules, closely resemble Epsom salts but are different chemically. They are available as an over the counter supplement for pain management and for weight loss. Some bath salts contain small amounts of caffeine to increase the relaxation and energize the user. Others contain essential oils or medicinal herbs.
There is no direct connection between the bath salts and methamphetamines, the main constituent of the designer drugs. However, methamphetamines increase the release of dopamine in the brain, which leads to increased feelings of euphoria and stimulation. The drug’s effects are similar to that of cocaine. When taken in excess, methamphetamines cause hallucinations, increased heart rate, sweating, and confusion. Methamphetamines are highly addictive and can be habit forming.
Designer drugs are also made from chemicals used in making various consumer products such as lotions, cosmetics, shampoos, and deodorants. Many people believe that bath salts contain dangerous chemicals used in manufacturing these products, but this is untrue. The chemicals are present in trace amounts in the materials used to make the other products and are unlikely to cause any health problems.
In the US, bath salts have earned a reputation as an acceptable alternative to marijuana, ecstasy, and other illicit substances. These “bath salts” are available in a variety of forms. Many users mix baking soda and water to create a homemade cure for a sore throat, stomach ache, or other maladies. There are even websites on the internet that offer recipe for homemade bath fizzies that consumers can purchase and use in the bath.
In Canada, bath salts are recognized as a legal alternative to ingesting the illegal drug, cannabis. There have been conflicting stories concerning whether bath salts can be considered illegal. One Canadian court held that there is no citation needed to legally buy bath salts if one is ingesting them in their bathtub instead of smoking them in their room. This is in contrast to the United Kingdom, which considers all drugs except for cannabis to be illegal regardless of how they are used.
In the United States, bath salts do not face criminal prosecution. The Drug Enforcement Administration considers them to be a controlled substance, which means they fall under state jurisdiction rather than federal jurisdiction. While no laws against selling or cultivating them exist in most states, there are some municipalities that have enacted ordinances that prevent persons from using them in public. Many cities have made it illegal to publicly display information about these substances on public porches and poles. In a July issue of High Times, a freelance writer was arrested after attempting to sell several bath salts at his hotel. He was taken into custody and cited for trespassing.
There have been no documented deaths as a result of mDPV. MPD is often confused with other conditions such as ecstasy, crystal meth, heroin, and staph infections. These other disease states require an incubation period of ten days following use before the possibility of toxicity becomes evident. Crystal meth, however, has been known to cause psychosis, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, and aggressive behavior in users. It is unclear whether the symptoms of bath salts intoxication would manifest after only a few hours or a few days of use.
Since bath salts are made from synthetic stimulants such as ephedrine, flaxseed oil, and codeine, many people who have tried it feel highly uncomfortable while having a bath or taking a shower. Some common symptoms reported by users include: agitation, depression, delirium, lightheadedness, nervousness, insomnia, sweating, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, and severe headaches. Some users become so intoxicated that they slip into a deep sleep and may not be able to recall their events the next morning. MPD patients are prone to lapses of consciousness, seizures, heart attacks, and hypothermia. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who experience these symptoms do not seek medical help, and instead resort to buying more bath salts to self medicate.