Bath salts are a drug of abuse, and dangerous poisonings have been report in U.S. emergency departments. Bath salt” is not, as the name implies, hygiene products used for bathing, but rather dangerous synthetic (“man-made”) cathinones. Cathinones are stimulants found in the khat plant, which grows in East Africa and southern Arabia. These mind-altering drugs are powerful central nervous system stimulants that inhibit the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Are bath salts illegal in the United States?
In 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced an emergency program to combat the presence of MDPV, ephedrine and methylene in bath salts.
- President Barack Obama signed a law banning the use of ephedrine, methylene, and MDVP by placing them in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
- Schedule I controlled substances cannot be sold or prescribe for medical purpose under any circumstances.
- The Act also prohibits any future chemical compounds designed to mimic the effects of bath salts.
- Possession or sale of these chemicals or products containing these chemicals is illegal in the United States.
How are bath salts consumed?
The drug is usually inhaled through the nose, but can also be injecte, snorted, ingested, or consume rectally. Toxic doses of new synthetic cathinones, such as bath salts, have not been established9 and may vary due to the illicit nature of the drug. The risk of overdose is high, as sachets can contain up to 500 mg of the drug.
When taken orally, absorption is rapid, with a “high” after 1.5 hours and a duration of action of 3-4 hours, followed by an intense “withdrawal experience”. The overall impression can last 8 hours or more.1 Drug use and injection are particularly dangerous.
What are the effects of bath salts?
The difference between bath salts and methamphetamine is that they produce a similar “high”: the desired effect can be
- A feeling of euphoria
- Increased alertness and concentration
- Energy explosion.
Acute side effects may include
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps or tremors
Levels of Bath Salt Use
In addition to use in the United States, the DEA has highlighted the illegal use of MDPV in Europe and Australia, with the first reported seizure of MDPV in Germany in 2007. In 2015, authorities in Florida highlighted the use of a new cotinine called Flake, which causes delirium in consumers. Prior to the federal ban, many states had enacted their own laws banning at least some of the chemicals in these products.
Bath salt overdose
The pharmacological effects of MDPV and related chemicals can lead to serious and potentially fatal side effects; MDPV inhibits the norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake systems (including neurotransmitters in the brain), leading to stimulatory effects in the central nervous system.
- Hydration, cardiac support, and electrolyte disturbances such as hypernatremia need to be address.
- Rhabdomyolysis (rupture of muscle fibers, releasing myoglobin, a protein that can cause kidney damage, into the bloodstream) may also occur.
- In case of overdose, supportive and symptomatic treatment is indicated, as there is no antidote8.
Can bath salts be addictive?
Bath salts have been reporte to have highly addictive and tolerance-inducing properties. Strong cravings similar to those of methamphetamine users have been report.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Delusions of grandeur
For synthetic cotinine intoxication, such as that found in bath salts, there are no FDA-approved medications. Treatment of bath addiction may involve a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing.
There are several companies that sell salt from Pakistan, but Standard Salts is one of the biggest producers of Himalayan salt and exports to the USA, the UK, Russia, and Spain. They mine salt from the salt range system’s slopes in Kalabagh and Khewra. Pakistan has the second-largest salt mining industry in the world, producing over 800 million pounds of salt annually.