Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bath Salts: Get the Facts

Bath Salts: Get the Facts Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS! From GeorgetownCARES – May 2013 Did you know? A new trend in youth drug use involves experimenting with powders known as “bath salts” to get high. Use of these stimulant/amphetamine/hallucinogens are responsible for a large and growing number of emergency room visits across the country. Bath salts can produce effects comparable to a combination of methamphetamine and cocaine. The potential for bodily harm, fatal overdoses, violent behavior of users, plus the addictive nature of the drug have caused serious alarm for many. In 2011 there were more than 6,000 calls to poison control centers, more than ten times the number in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Data on teen use of bath salts is still scarce because this is so recent a phenomenon. The drug “bath salts” should not be confused in any way with epsom salt products; they are completely dissimilar. Producers and distributors call the drug “bath salts” to evade drug law enforcement. This drug is also marketed as plant food, stain remover, or various cleaning products. What exactly are bath salts? – The active ingredients of bath salts are two synthetic cathinones which act as stimulant/hallucinogens. One is a dopamine-releasing agent known as mephedrone (MEPH), which – like METH – causes the brain to release more dopamine. The other chemical is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), which – like cocaine – is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Both compounds increase dopamine availability to receptors, and both – through different mechanisms – produce feelings of euphoria. Neither has any FDA approved medical use. First developed in 1969, MDPV and MEPH remained obscure stimulants until around 2004 when they were first sold as “bath salts.” Bath salts appear as fine crystalline powders that tend to clump, resembling something like powdered sugar. The color ranges from white to yellowish-tan to brown, and the darker powder omits a slight odor. What is the legal status of bath salts/MDPV? The drug has been legal to sell in most states when labeled “not for human consumption,” until very recently. In July 2012, the Federal Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 added 26 chemicals, including MDPV and MEPH, the active ingredients of bath salts, to the list of Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. The 2012 legislation extended the executive authority of the DEA over synthetic drugs to three years; and criminalized the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of certain synthetic drugs to include a minimum 20 year sentence for those who are directly responsible for the death or injury of another person by manufacturing, distribution or sales of synthetic drugs. A few states have also enacted a ban on certain bath salt ingredients for any use. How are bath salts used? Bath salts are usually ingested by sniffing/snorting. They can also be taken orally in capsule form, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins. Where can a person find bath salts? Bath salts are sold heavily online, but are also readily available in retail outlets – such as convenience stores or gas stations, where you may see a whole display of pills and packages marked as “energy boosters.” Some may be legal, and some may not be. Head or smoke shops, both of which may sell drug paraphernalia just within the limits of the law, also sell these drugs. Bath salts are usually made in local/underground “labs” or imported from Asia. How can you tell if something that is labeled as a bath salt is really a drug? Bath salts are often sold in boxes of foil or plastic packets that are about the size of a moist towelette. If the box also says, “not for human consumption,” or that it is “not illegal” (never a good sign) or that it is for “adults only,” it is probably a drug that was created for ingestion and not for a hot bath. A box is priced from $30 to $50, less than some other illegal substances. What does the packaging look like and what are some Street/brand names for bath salts? Use Google Image to find “bath salts drug” or “bath salts drug packaging” pictures of the products. Names used to sell product include Cloud 9, Ivory Soft Concentrated Bath Salts, Serenity Now, Red Dawn Vector Extra, Red Dove, Blue Silk, Lunar Wave, Ivory Wave Soothing Bath Salts, White Snow Plant Feeder, Frog Magic Plant Food, etc. What are its short term effects (long term effects are not yet known) of MDVP/bath salt use? Short-term effects include tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperthermia (increased body temperature - up to 108 degrees), pupil dialation, aggression/agitation and delirium. Users may experience a severe paranoia leading to violent behavior, causing harm to themselves or others. Effects reported to Poison Control Centers include suicidal thoughts, terror, delusions, agitation, combative/violent behavior, confusion, hallucinations/psychosis, increased heart rate, hypertension, or chest pain. The speed of onset is 15 minutes, while the “high” lasts 4 or more hours. Users have reported a compulsive desire to continuously re-dose, even following onset of the unpleasant side effects induced by prolonged use and higher doses. Users can and do become easily addicted, according to 2011 NIDA research. How are Emergency Rooms handling bath salts overdose cases? Dr. Cathleen Clancy, Associate Medical Director at the National Capital Poison Center in Washington D.C., catalogs the effects of bath salts on the area's emergency room cases. Dr. Clancy reports that users are often hyper-agitated, hot and sweating. Their heart rate and blood pressure are dangerously high, and seizures are common. Sedatives may not help them, in which case antipsychotics are tried. Death does and can occur from overdose, usually preceded by extremely high fever. Early on, doctors began noticing something else that was strange. Compared with other drugs, bath salts didn't follow a normal dose-response pattern. “Some bath salt overdose patients had to stay in the hospital for 5 days, 10 days, 14 days,” Ryan said. “In some cases, they were under heavy sedation. As you try to taper off the sedation, the paranoia came back with disturbing delusions." Why would a person want to use “Bath Salts?” Some people use stimulants, which is what bath salts are often perceived as – though they are more - to get high or escape, but most want to get energy or build endurance to make it through ordinary activities. Some people who feel overworked and overstressed try to self-medicate with stimulants. Stimulants may be attractive to “Type A” people, those often seen by others as overachievers with perfectionist tendencies. Some report heightened sociability and/or sex drive. Peer pressure or curiosity can play a large role, and often teens don’t know what the negative effects will be until it’s too late. Word of mouth can play a big part in deciding to try it, plus the price is reasonable compared to some illegal Rx drugs or cocaine. Uninformed users may think that bath salts are legal or safer than methamphetamine or cocaine. Users may think that they would not drug test positive; in fact, it is barely detectible in urine tests, but it will show in blood or plasma tests. Sources: