Designer drugs are nothing new. From ecstasy to Methamphetamines- mad scientists have been concocting dangerous mixtures for years. But a new drug has authorities worried about it potency and its effects- not just on the human body, but the mind as well. Many people have recently heard the story of a Miami man who seemingly went insane, attacking a fellow homeless person- and eating his face off. Reports indicated he was on drugs. No shit. But what? The answer many authorities came up with has such an innocent sounding name; you could mistake it for something you might have under your sink: ‘Bath salts’.
So what exactly are bath salts? Made around the world, and legal in many countries, ‘bath salts’ have been known to combine the effects of cocaine, meth and ecstasy- and to cause violent psychotic episodes, severe hallucinations and insomnia. Up until recently you could buy it at many corner stores and head shops here in the US. Also called ‘bath powder’, ‘herbal incense’ or ‘plant food’, they are a mixture of several different, and seemingly ever changing, chemicals. The drug commonly includes mephedrone, pyrovalerone and methylone, but can include other mixtures like methylenedioxypyrovalerone- all are synthetic and produced in labs. Since fall of 2011, the FDA has outlawed most of these chemicals, but chemists continue to alter the substances at the molecular level, so as to create new and “legal” compounds to keep distribution flowing.
So why would anyone take this drug if they knew that it causes massive psychotic fits and violent behavior? Unfortunately like meth and crack, ‘bath salts’ are cheap and readily available, selling anywhere from $25-$60 a packet. Stories of incidents involving bath salts have been reported all over the country, and are not isolated to one region or state. From a report by The American Association of Poison Control Centers, 303 incidents involving ‘bath salt’ use were reported in 2010. As of last year the number of recorded cases was 6,138, a more than 20-fold increase in fewer than two years. That means that ‘bath salts’ have literally exploded onto the US drug market. This year as of April 30, AAPCC has reported over 1,000 cases, even despite the bans set in place last fall. Authorities are doing all they can, but with many of the shipments coming from outside of the country, it is hard to police their traffic.
Mephedrone and MDPV, the most common form of ’bath salts’, are synthetic equivalents of the drug cathinone. Found in khat, a plant that grows naturally in eastern Africa, the active ingredient is a potent hallucinogen, and is a Schedule 1 drug, making it a controlled substance. Although it has been illegal to possess or distribute khat for many years, its synthetic copycats had been legal up until a few months ago. Many of the labels for ‘bath salts’ even have innocent sounding names like ‘Vanilla Dream’, ‘Blue Silk’ and ‘Bliss’, and can be ingested in a variety of ways: from smoking to inhalation to injection.
Initially the symptoms from ‘bath salts’ are positive: Relaxation, a sense of warmth- even euphoria have all been reported shortly after absorption. However, eventually a darker side rears its head; there are too many stories to count of people losing their minds and acting out violently. From an off duty security guard going on a felonious rampage, to a couple stabbing the “90 people living in the walls” of their apartment, to the infamous Miami Zombie face eating attack- the fallout from this new rug is hard to ignore.
Haiken, Melanie. “’Bath Salts’ A Deadly New Drug With A
Deceptively Innocent Name”
Forbes.com. Forbes. 6/04/2012
Petri, Alexandria. “Zombie Apocalypse: Are Bath Salts to Blame?” ComPost. Washington Post. 06/07/2012
n.a. abovetheinfluence.com. National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. n.d.
By Will I.
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