‘bath Salts’ Sending Teens to Emergency Rooms

in Drug Crimes, on

Authorities across the country are concerned about a new trend among teens: snorting “fake” bath salts. With the recent ban on the chemicals used to make “fake” marijuana, experts say that drug manufacturers have found another way to make money by using legal chemicals to mimic the effects of illegal drugs. Only a handful of states have banned the drugs, adding criminal penalties for possession, selling, distribution and other related activities.

The same types of shops and convenience stores that sold fake marijuana are selling the bath salts. Brand names include Blue Silk, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave and White Lightening. A half-gram bottle, promising an “invigorating” and “energizing” experience, sells for $25 to $30.

The bath salts mimic the effects of cocaine and crystal meth. That rush of euphoria, however, can quickly be followed by paranoia as well as irregular heartbeats and chest pains. Emergency room professionals report that teens arrive confused and disoriented with elevated blood pressure.

Emergency rooms are seeing more patients, and poison centers are getting more calls. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that centers across the country received more than 230 calls in 2010. Enough adverse reactions have been reported to get the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice.

While the Drug Enforcement Administration outright banned the chemicals in fake marijuana, the agency has only listed the key ingredient in some brands of bath salts, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), as a drug of concern. The DEA knows that the MDPV causes panic attacks and psychosis and that it can be addictive, but the agency has completed further study there will be no ban.

States have picked up where the DEA left off. Louisiana, for example, now has an emergency ban on MPDV and other chemicals found in the bath salts. A few days after the ban was enacted, a 28-year-old Louisiana man was arrested for purchasing bath salts containing the banned substances; buying the drugs violate his probation, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

With mounting evidence of the dangers of the drugs, including suicides and admissions to psychiatric hospitals, it may not be long before all states, including North Carolina, take action.

Source: Sacramento Bee, “Bath salts misused as ‘fake cocaine’ send users to hospitals,” 01/18/11