Statesboro, Ga. — Some bath salts—with names like Ocean Burst and Ivory Wave—aren't really for bathing. Rather, they are the latest high for naive teens and young adults as well as established drug abusers.
"Fake cocaine and fake meth are laced in bath salts and sold legally on the Internet and in convenience stores, gas stations, truck stops and head shops in most states. This newest boutique chemical substance is being used for a narcotic effect and often sends users to emergency rooms," warns Greg L. Jones, MD, addiction medicine physician at Willingway Hospital, a privately owned 40-bed alcohol and drug abuse treatment center in Statesboro, Ga.
According to Jones, manufacturers are using engineered molecules similar to controlled substances in the fake bath salts, which are labeled "not for consumption," to skirt the law. The molecules are derivatives of two controlled substances: MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which is similar to Ritalin, but more potent) and mephedrone (an amphetamine-like drug). Also known as party salts and party powders, fake bath salts are snorted or ingested to create a stimulant, narcotic effect like that of cocaine.
"Users are snorting and ingesting the fake bath salts as a stimulant, to create a sense of euphoria and to stay up and party longer," explained Jones. "However, it can increase pulse and blood pressure to dangerous levels and cause delirium and confusion."
People using the bath salts as a narcotic have been treated for paranoia, hallucinations, agitation, hypertension, chest pain and headaches.
"Drug-naive teens and college students are showing up in ERs across the country because they purchased and used these products. They probably think that since they didn't buy them from a drug-dealer that they aren't as dangerous as the real thing, so they load up on them and reach a toxic state," Jones said.
As attention is being drawn to this latest drug abuse fad, Jones predicts that, as Willingway Hospital is now doing, facilities will be adding questions about use of party powders and fake bath salts to their drug and alcohol history questionnaires. And, more prevalent use is leading to a ban of these products, such as in Louisiana where two weeks ago, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that the so-called bath salts are now defined as illegal narcotics under State of Louisiana law.