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‘Bath salts’ may not be for bath water

December 18, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

If you overhear a discussion about "bath salts," it's very possible that it is not something used to enhance your bath water when you want to pamper yourself and relieve your stress.

Earlier this month the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. voted on a bill to make these designer drugs illegal. These "bath salts" are synthetic drugs that mimic marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. They are dangerous substances.

Bath salts, also known as K-2, Spice, "plant food," are designer drugs that affect the brain just like the active ingredient in marijuana, THC. There have been incidents where extreme violence has occurred, things like stabbings and jumping from multi-story windows.

Legislation would place these substances on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. Currently, these bath salts are sold legally in some states. But read the fine print. When the buyer purchases online, the supplier takes no responsibility for anything.

The buyer provides that he is over age 18, will not hold the supplier responsible and the buyer understands that these items are not for oral consumption, are for "research purposes only." There are other conditions and stipulations, as well. But the ones listed here are reason enough to be suspicious about "bath salts."

The narrative provided at one such web site would be laughable if this wasn't such a serious thing.

"The synthetic powder is sold legally online and in drug paraphernalia stores," says Dr. Nora D. Voltow, director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse.) There are a variety of names, she adds: Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, Scarface and Hurricane Charlie.

"Because these products are relatively new to the drug abuse scene," says Dr. Voltow, our knowledge about their precise chemical composition and short and long term effects is limited. Yet the information we do have is worrisome and warrants a proactive stance to understand and minimize any potential dangers to the health of the public."

She advises that the chemicals in the bath salts act like stimulant drugs. Sometimes they are referred to as cocaine substitutes. They are easy to abuse and highly addictive. Because their ingredients often are unknown, the danger is even greater. And "alarming" number of emergency room visits across the country have been recorded. Ingesting or snorting bath salts stimulants can cause:

- chest pains

- increased blood pressure

- increased heart rate

- agitation

- hallucinations

- extreme paranoia

- delusions

In just the first two months of 2011 there were 251 calls regarding bathsalts to poison control centers, Dr. Voltow advises. For the whole year of 2010 there were 236 calls. When someone has used these drugs and goes to the emergency room, they are not controllable with normal sedatives and there have been reports of users being treated for these substance abuses may need to be sedated for days, perhaps more than a week. And still the effects return. Some of the effects may be permanent.

For more information about this topic, contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County and the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS).



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