Bath salts are FINALLY getting some attention in the national political system to finally provide legislation to make these illegal. Many people ask me what “bath salts” are.  Are they something you put in the bath? Are they the stuff you buy at the drug store? NO these have nothing to do with actual baths or bath salts! They are simply a cover name given to get around laws regarding products that are marketed for human consumption.  By labeling and branding a product “not for human consumption” such as something like “bath salts” they get around laws regarding selling products in the U.S.  So no, they have nothing to do with bath salts.

Bath salts are actually designer drugs that are chemical cousins of ecstasy.  The main component is usually mephedrone which is a chemical that is very similar in structure and effect as an amphetamine but with a wider range of effects on the body. It causes symptoms that are normally present in 3 different drugs- ecstasy, methamphetamine and PCP.  Only bath salts are worse. The symptoms are more severe, more resistant to drugs such as ativan/valium to calm down and they take longer to have symptoms dissipate..  They recently caused a homeless man to eat another homeless mans face off… clearly this is not good stuff!

Although illegal in Arizona, they are easily available online since no national legislation is in place.  But here is the scary part-they can easily get around any legislation by simply modifying the chemical compound every so slightly that it is technically a “new” molecule and thus no longer illegal under the laws for the current mix of “bath salts.”

This is a problem unlike anything we have seen before because cocaine, crack, lsd etc were not something that could be easily modified into new compounds and thus when they are illegal, they remain illegal.  This is different and there is NO current way to stop the surge with the current american legal system and the regulation they have over controlled illegal substances.

That is why we need to take the responsibility to educate kids and everyone that these drugs are NOT pleasurable.  As a psychiatrist I have seen and treated over 20 cases of bath salt intoxication.  From people laying naked in the snow, to running naked down a highway in 100 degree weather, I have seen everything in between as far as bizarre, yet dangerous behavior.  They experience extreme psychosis, such as hallucinations, paranoia and delusions.  So severe and believable that they are convinced it is real and they have no insight into understanding it is the drug at work.  They make your “organs burn” is a common description from people I speak with.  They rarely say it was a pleasent experience.

If you are a parent and want to check your kids-there is a way to do it. A simple over the counter drug test that tests for PCP (which is common in the standard 5 drug test at the drugstore) will show bath salts more often than not. Chemically related to pcp in terms of how it reacts for this test, it will show positive for pcp.

There are also specific tests for mephedrone and its derivatives more specific to the bath salt drugs alike and can be bought online.

Parents need to take action-this stuff is the most dangerous drug out there in my clinical opinion as a psychiatrist.