Parents beware! A new and dangerous designer drug is making the rounds these days, known among teens and adult users as “bath salts.” Named for their similarity in appearance to actual spa bath products, the designer drugs are actually much more deadly than their name implies. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that over 22,000 visits to emergency rooms across the nation in 2011 were related to the use of bath salt drugs.
Bath salts contain one of two psychoactive chemicals:
Both compounds are synthetic versions of a natural ingredient found in the East African khat plant. Since both chemicals are illegal in the U.S., manufacturers often make very slight changes to the compound- just enough that it id not “technically” illegal- and include packaging disclaimers, such as “not for human consumption” so that they can “legally” sell the product over the Internet, in head shops, and even in gas stations and convenience stores in some states.
Bath salts drugs can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, addiction, suicidal thoughts, psychosis and, in some cases, death – especially when combined with the use of other drugs. The SAMHSA report showed that 67% of bath salt-related ER visits also indicated the use of other substances, such as marijuana (15%) and other narcotics (52%). So far, most bath salts are being imported from China and Europe, but U.S. officials are on the lookout for local sources to start appearing as the drugs gain in popularity.