Bath salts describe a variety of synthetic Cathinones or designer drugs that are deliberately tagged with innocuous names to divert judicial attention from their harmful contents. These substances hidden under the name "bath salts" often contain a number of chemical ingredients in varying degrees of toxicity. Individuals who purchase and ingest these products usually have no idea of the combination of potentially harmful substances that they are consuming.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) these synthetic Cathinones or bath salts are unregulated psychoactive substances that are designed to mimic the effects of other illicit substances like methamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine. However, NIDA scientists warn that the spectrum of noxious substances contained in these man made cathinone variants makes them potentially more dangerous than the natural products.
In 2011, after reports linked the use of bath salts to multiple calls to poison control centers and numerous emergency room visits, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse began urging the public, especially parents and teachers to be aware of the potential dangers associated with these drugs. In October of that same year, the Food and Drug Administration placed "bath salts on the schedule I list of Controlled Substances. Drugs with a schedule I designation has a high potential for abuse and is recognized as having no medical use in the United States. It is also considered an illegal substance subject to Drug Enforcement Administration penalties for manufacture, distribution and possession.
The NIDA describe synthetic Cathinones as white or brown crystal-like powder that is usually labeled "not for consumption" and sold in plastic or foil packages. These designer drugs are also marketed under a variety of misleading names such as:
Due to the shape shifting nature of these products which can contain just about any ingredient that the manufacturer decides to use, the true effects of these products are still relatively unknown. However, based on study outcomes on products sold as bath salts, researcher's report that the chemical composition is mostly similar to drugs like amphetamines and cocaine. Bath salts have been known to cause a range of negative side effects such as hallucinations, severe agitation, paranoia, chest pains, spikes in blood pressure, suicidal thoughts and attempts.
A concerning characteristic of bath salts is that the effects of chronic use can linger for long periods after abstinence. In some instances, patients experience extreme paranoia and agitation. As such, the duration of a drug treatment program for bath salt addiction is a minimum thirty days to be effective. Also, because of the sub-culture in which bath salt abuse typically occur; staying in a sober living environment or participating in an outpatient treatment program directly following rehab often proves to be beneficial in helping patients maintain their sobriety.