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Bath Salts: The Latest Drug Trend

There has been a lot of "face-eating" in the news recently. The highly publicized "Miami Zombie" attack has only brought forward the sad reality of these stories. Face-eaters and self-mutilators are on the rise thanks to the help of the new designer drug, bath salts.

If you’re unfamiliar with the new trend, here are some cases around the news over the past year that have bath salts listed as the root drug cause:

2011:  a Florida man had to be subdued by several officers after (somehow) ripping a police radar unit out of the car with his teeth. 2011:  a man killed a sheriff's deputy in Mississippi and bath salts were found in his blood-work. 2012:  a man from New Jersey cut out his intestines and threw them at the police officers who were trying to arrest him. 2012:  Louisiana's Carl Jacquneaux who attacked and bit his ex-wife's husband in the front yard of his home.

The word about bath salts has spread as the drug has been around since 2011, but many people (like this writer) thought they were actually bath salts – the kind found in your bathroom. Turns out, you cannot get a "killer" high off of taking a relaxing bubble bath. Bath salts are actually synthetic chemical derivatives designed to mimic the natural chemicals found in the herb khat, which contains psychedelic properties.

Bath salts are a synthetic drug made by at-home drug chemists who continue to produce many new substances and package them as legal items commonly found in daily life, like bathroom bath salts. The product has also gone by plant food, plant fertilizer, and toy cleaner. All of these names are utilized to skirt around legality issues, and even the packaging adheres to normal practices of the true items by stating "not for human consumption." The drugs are then sold in regular retail stores, head shops, and online.

Bath salts, plant food, toy cleaner - whatever you want to call it - are all made from 3 key ingredients:  Mephedrone, Methylone, and MDPV, chemicals that share similar characteristics to Ecstacy (MDMA) and methamphetamines. The mephedrone not only increases levels of dopamine in the brain like meth, but it also increases levels of serotonin like ecstacy. Bath salts give the effects of both drugs at the same time, and they are good-feeling effects, making bath salts highly addictive and seriously dangerous.

Adverse effects of bath salts put a huge strain on the body and often lead to death. Acute overdoses on bath salts are being seen more frequently, and unlike cocaine or meth overdoses, it is very hard to treat bath salt overdoses with sedatives. While a sedative may work for a short time, eventually the user is back in severe hallucinations. In one case, a user had been sedated for 12 days and once the sedation had been stopped the user went right back into the accelerated agitation and hallucinations he started with while under the drug. Side effects of bath salt usage includes:

- High blood pressure - Increased pulse - Agitation - Paranoia - Chest pain - Suicidal tendencies - Hallucinations

Due to the fact that these drugs are produced in at-home labs, it has been considered that there are also newly designed, and therefore untraceable, chemicals included in bath salts. There is speculation that these unknown chemical compounds could be responsible for the severity of agitation and symptoms.

Bath salts are affecting not only the health and safety of users at this point, but also that of citizens minding their own business. These drugs are still available in many retail facilities throughout most states and can technically be purchased by people of any age. Parents need to be strongly warned about this as any minor is able to purchase these products. These drugs are a serious problem not just for users and hospital staff who need to deal with them, but also for everyday folks who are finding themselves subjected to violent and painful encounters with bath salt users.


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