Bath Salts - The New 'Designer Drug'

Bath SaltsIt seems that as soon as law enforcement and healthcare professionals are on to the newest wave of designer drugs and how to deal with them, someone has stepped up and created yet another variation. These drugs are mostly synthetic and the psychoactive effects vary from mild to highly euphoric, but some can be dangerously unpredictable, causing hallucinations, seizures, and even death.

So while treatment centers and healthcare professionals are used to dealing with the usual addictions like alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana, now they are now forced to address addictions to man-made designer drugs not necessarily created for medicinal needs, but rather by back-door chemists looking to find the next new high. Ecstasy (MDMA) came early in this process, but now there are drugs like Bath Salts, Spice, and K2. Bath Salts generally are chemically numbered phenethylamines (2CI, 2C-B, 2C-T, 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, 2C-E) given catchy names like, Nbomb, Dragon Fly, Smiles among others.

To keep ahead of laws and drug tests, chemists are altering these chemicals slightly as the formulas are discovered, leading to additional risks and dangers. They change old drugs to new drugs, leaving emergency room physicians at a loss to know what type of overdose they’re dealing with. Plus an individual’s body chemistry and interaction with other prescriptions comes into play, creating even more danger for the user.

Bath Salts (Phenethylamines)

It’s important to know that unless it’s from the toiletry department of the drug store, that packet on Patti’s desk probably wasn’t meant to go into the tub.  are synthetic compounds considered to be in the hallucinogenic class like LSD, but are also characterized by their stimulating and heightened experiential properties, somewhat like Methamphetamine. Marketed as “legal Acid” young people enjoy the aspects of heightened awareness and sexuality while using these drugs, but they can also create paranoia and other unpleasant side effects. The mild hallucinations some experience and handle well enough turn into a hellish nightmare for others.

Police have had to witness the aftermath brought on by some of these drugs, as illustrated by the case in Miami, FL when a man high on bath salts ate the face off a homeless man. He was so out of control police had to shoot him, as sometimes these drugs create psychosis (sometimes permanent) and superhuman strength that is no match even for a taser! Then there was the woman in Virginia who scratched the skin off her body because she was sure something was crawling under her skin and the Indiana man who jumped off a light pole into freeway traffic. Poison control centers, emergency rooms and funeral directors have seen the aftermath of this new type of high.


 causes body temperature, heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure go up in the user, and overdoses may cause dehydration, fever, convulsions, seizures and death. Emotional  include paranoia, violent outbursts, panic attacks and in some cases, extreme psychotic breaks. One would wonder how much fun those side effects can be, but as long as there are those willing to take the chance, these drugs will continue to be problematic.

The effects vary by drug, but negative side effects include:

2C-I- seizures, confusion, kidney failure, fatally high blood pressure 25b-NBOMe and 251NBOMe (N-Bomb) – difficulty breathing, vision sensitivity 2B-B- confusion, cardiovascular disturbances, dehydration 2C-T- panic attacks, depression of the central nervous system, vomiting, delirium, loss of memory 2C-T-2- paranoia, panic attacks, muscle rigidity, vomiting, anxiety2C-T-7- vomiting, headaches, confusion, delirium, high blood pressure, muscle spasms. Street names include T-Seven, Lucky Seven, Seventh Heaven or Tripstacy.

These drugs sell in gas stations, convenience stores “head shops” and online for roughly $25 – $50 per packet, labeled innocently enough as plant food or insect repellent, with “not for human consumption” added to somehow elude drug laws. In 2012, the active ingredients in bath salts were federally banned, slowing down the surge of new variations hitting the market. The different variations have slightly different properties, but all are dangerous. Street names include Smiles, N-Bomb, Vanilla Sky, Purple Rain, Dragon Fly, Lucky 7, Seventh Heaven, Ivory Wave, Bliss and more. Bath Salts are ingested by inhaling, smoking, eating, or being absorbed by the skin (usually sold blotted on paper). The absorbent kind (Nbomb for example) is so potent even policemen won’t handle the containers it’s made in!

One reason this class of drugs has become so popular is that they are cheaper to make and obtain than cocaine and methamphetamine. This makes Bath Salts and teenagers an especially risky combination. Some think it is safer than coke and meth, but statistics might tell a different story. Add to that it’s availability, fast effects and the fact it doesn’t show up on standard drug tests (they do have tests just for this class of drug, however) and one can see why it’s so appealing to young people and drug addicts.

bathsaltspacketSo if Junior’s bath salts are in a small packet similar to those used for moist towelettes, or if it’s labeled something odd like, “stain remover,” “plant food,” and the usual “not for human consumption,” be suspicious. If he’s agitated and paranoid, complaining of being too warm, those may be signs as well. Sleep deprivation may also be another thing to watch for. Though the effects of this drug last only four to five hours, he may be re-ingesting to stay on a continuous high. Studies are still being done on this class of drug and it’s properties, but it is thought to be highly addictive. Affects of long term use are not known at this time.

If you suspect someone you know is using this type of drug, it’s best to intervene as soon as possible, as one bad batch or bad trip can have devastating and permanent results. Remember these chemicals are made by shady chemists out for a quick buck who are largely unconcerned about the physical ramifications and “quality control.” Their main concern is evading drug laws, not the fate of those who purchase the drug. You may want to consult a professional about the warning signs and how (and when) to approach your loved one.

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