“Bath salts” may sound harmless enough. The reality is that this term refers to dangerous and potentially fatal street drugs. Bath salts abuse and addiction to bath salts has been a growing problem in recent years requiring many addicts to seek bath salts treatment.
Also known as Flakka, Bloom or Cloud Nine, bath salts are synthetic cathinones. This means they a manmade version of a substance found in khat which is a shrub native to East Africa and southern Arabia with leaves that are normally chewed for their stimulant effects.
Synthetic cathinones are generally considerably stronger than those found in nature. They are chemically similar to amphetamines, cocaine and MDMA, and are marketed as less expensive alternatives to these drugs.
The chemical composition of bath salts varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. They often contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone, mephedrone and pyrovalerone – all of which are extremely potent and potentially dangerous chemical compounds. Synthetic cathinones also contain any number of harmful adulterants.
The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies bath salts as a Schedule I drug meaning that they have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Bath salts come as a white or brown powder or crystals that can be snorted, taken orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected. The powders may be sold in packages with names like “bath salts,” “plant food,” “jewelry cleaner,” or “phone screen cleaner,” and marked “not for human consumption.” When labeled this way they may be sold online or in drug paraphernalia stores. This easy access has in part fueled the problem of bath salts abuse.
As is the case with amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA, bath salts boost dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the main neurotransmitter that produces feelings of pleasure and well-being. As a result, users may experience a sense of euphoria when using synthetic cathinones as well as an increased sex drive and sociability. But using these drugs also produce a number of other feelings including:
- Panic attacks
- Violent behavior