The drug market, like most things in this world, is in a constant state of flux, as new substances are introduced and abused. A new up and comer in the synthetic market is a synthetic cathinone known simply as “bath salts“. This isn’t to be confused with traditional bath salt, like Epsom Salts. They are instead referred to as bath salts, plant food, jewelry cleaner, and other similar titles to help avoid detection.
WHAT ARE “BATH SALTS” AND WHAT ARE THE DANGERS?
Cathinones are found in nature from the catha edulis shrub, producing a common Middle Eastern drug known as Khat. These leaves are chewed heavily throughout the Middle East due to the amphetamine like effects it produces. Khat helps reduce fatigue, makes the user more alert, and is the main component in a number of anti-fatigue medications. While the natural cathinones found in Khat leaves do increase blood pressure and can have an effect on the user’s mood, the cathinone levels in Khat leaves are much lower than that of its synthetic counterpart, the bath salts.
WHY ARE BATH SALTS SO DANGEROUS?
In lower doses, bath salts can produce feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and a higher sex drive. This is similar to methyl doxyl methamphetamines (MDMA) the main chemical component of ecstasy. The problem is, with higher doses, a user can be left with feelings of paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations. A further overdose can turn these paranoid delusions and agitation into violent or psychotic behavior. With bath salts, the difference between the dosage for the desired effect and an overdose is very small. What complicates matters is that these bath salts are commercially available, as many of the new “designer synthetics” and are being sold in retail stores and online due to how difficult they are to track and control. Because they are cheap, easy to obtain, and highly addictive, bath salts are becoming an increasing problem for drug abuse.
IF BATH SALTS ARE BAD, WHY AREN’T THEY ILLEGAL?
The problem with the synthetic cathinones is that they are illegal, or at least a number of them are. In 2012 President Obama signed a bill banning mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and other synthetic drugs that were being sold in stores. The problem is, once one of these chemicals is banned, a new one takes its place. Changing the chemical process to create the synthetics will change the molecular structure, in other words, it makes a new “legal” substance that can be sold. While the hope remains that this problem with be curbed in time, it still remains a very real problem presently.