• Human Exposures to Bath Salts

    Bath salts is the informal “street name” for a family of designer drugs often containing substituted cathinones, which have effects similar to amphetamine and cocaine. They are made up of white crystals that resemble legal bathing products like epsom salts. These substances are usually marketed with packaging stating “not for human consumption” in an attempt to avoid the prohibition of drugs. Also known as Cloud 9, Bliss, Ivory Wave, White Rush, and Sextasy, bath salts are highly addictive and act on the brain like other stimulants. Sometimes referred to as “cocaine substitutes,” bath salts are powerful illegal drugs that have not been tested for safety, and users don’t know exactly what chemicals they are putting into their bodies. The side effects they cause may be permanent.

    Bath salts are usually ingested by snorting. They can also be taken orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins. Drugs marketed as “bath salts” first came to the attention of authorities in the US in 2010 after reports were made to US poison centers.

    In 2011, poison centers fielded 6,138 calls about exposures to bath salts.  As of June 2012, poison centers have fielded 1,717 calls about the drugs.  The drug seems to be most popular with people who are between 20 and 29 years old. However, poison centers have seen bath salts exposure in a wide range of ages, from younger than 6 to older than 59.

    Poison center experts say the substances are among the worst they have seen. The speed of onset is 15 minutes, while the length of the high from these drugs is 4-6 hours. Users have experienced many side effects, such as:

    • Agitation.
    • Confusion.
    • Dizziness.
    • Hallucinations.
    • Insomnia.
    • Irritability.
    • Delusions.
    • Paranoia.
    • Combative/violent behavior.
    • Suicidal thoughts.
    • Seizures.
    • Panic attacks.
    • Chest pain.
    • Increased blood pressure.
    • Increased heart rate.
    • Nausea and vomiting.
    • Death or serious injury.

    If someone you love may be exposed to bath salts, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Poison experts can help you decide whether the victim can be treated at home, or must be brought to the hospital.

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    Categories: Substance Abuse

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