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The truth about 'bath salts'

Published April 02. 2011 09:00AM

• The substances contained in these products have absolutely nothing in common with actual bath salts.

• "Bath salts" are snorted, injected or smoked which causes hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts.

• The salts, which are allegedly as powerful as methamphetamines, have already been banned in the European Union, Australia, Canada and Israel. In the United States, Florida, Utah, Vermont, Alabama, Louisiana and North Dakota have all recently banned the substances.

• Historically, people have sought out and discovered legal substances that while not intended for this purpose, do provide a high. Airplane glue, paint thinner, Sterno, cough syrup and aerosols are a few examples.

• Increasingly, law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the advertised bath salts with complex chemical names are an emerging menace in several other U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale.

• The marketing scheme for "Ivory Wave" and other bath salt aliases is such that labeling them with, "not for human consumption," allows circumventing of the laws regarding the substances contained in them.

• The active ingredients, the stimulants mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), had been previously unregulated because they aren't marketed, or likely intended, for human consumption. This chemical has reportedly been sold since 2008 as a research chemical. It has also been sold as a legal drug alternative and marketed in the United States as "bath salts" where you could find it in convenience stores, discount tobacco outlets, gas stations, pawnshops, tattoo parlors, truck stops and other locations. The marketing scheme is similar to that for Spice, K2 which was sold as incense, and herbal smoking blends.

• These altered chemicals avoid laws on what they should or can be used for. Unfortunately, with something new like "bath salts" no laws exist to restrict its use, especially when designated with the "not for human consumption" designation.

• "Ivory Wave" is easily available on the Internet, and the cost for this "drug" is about $30 for 200 milligrams according to Deseret News out of Salt Lake City, UT. Prices range from $25 to $50 per 50-milligram packet according to the DEA.

• Two drugs that produce a "meth-like" high and are being sold under the guise of "bath salts" would be banned as federally controlled substances under a bill unveiled on Jan. 30, 2011 by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

• In 2010, poison control centers in the United States received 235 calls regarding bath salts. In January 2011, US poison control centers had already received 214 calls regarding bath salts.

• The danger with most "legal" substances used to get high is that they were developed and tested for some other purpose, and often include warnings about potential dangers or consequences of misusing them. When they are used to get high, the side effects and consequences are essentially unknown. But often those side effects produce serious risks to both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, these only become apparent after the fact, and can lead to permanent impairment or death.

For more information about bath salts and their harms if ingested, visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers at or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency at

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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