There are numerous street names for bath salts, such as Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Blue Silk, Purple Wave, Ocean Snow, White Lightening, Scarface, and Red Dove. Psychoactive bath salts (PABS) are abused designer drugs that often lead to serious intoxication and trips to the emergency room. Bath salts are central nervous stimulants that alter the norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake system, which causes serious or fatal adverse situations and reactions. The main ingredient in this drug is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a drug similar to methamphetamine. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) did emergency scheduling of MDPV in 2011, and it was banned in 2012.
Bath salts led to almost 23,000 admissions to the emergency department for symptoms related to bath salts. At least 66 percent of these visits involved a combination of drugs along with the bath salts. The Poison Control Center has had more than 6,000 calls related to exposure to bath salts annually, but in 2013, the number has decreased.
How Bath Salts Work in the Body
MDVP is a hallucinogenic substance that increases levels of dopamine in the brain only one hour after use. Packaged in a powdered form, bath salts come in 200 to 500 milligram packages, and are an off-white color. When snorted, injected, or smoked, these drugs have a high risk for overdose, as rapid absorption leads to a serious high. This causes tachycardia (elevated heart rate), high blood pressure, elevated body temperature, seizures, coma, or even death. Additionally, the user will suffer from hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, panic attacks, and agitation.
Bath salts lead to serious central nervous system stimulation. High doses are associated with psychosis, violent behavior, and toxicity. In the recent study in Michigan, 66 percent of patient experienced agitation, 63 percent reported high heart rate, and 40 percent suffered from hallucinations and delusions. Additionally, many suicides and deaths are attributed to bath salts.
Use of Bath Salts Globally
The DEA reports that bath salts are used in Europe, Australia, Germany, the U.K., the U.S., Canada, and Israel. The first reports in the U.S. were noted in 2009, but prior to the federal ban, certain states enacted bans to limit the use of bath salts. In Marquette County, Michigan, 17 patients were hospitalized and one died during a study on bath salts. Also, 24 subjects reported a history of other drug abuse, and many others had a mental disorder.
For those who overdose on bath salts, admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) is often necessary. Doctors will use antipsychotics, sedatives, and restraints to protect the person from harm to others or the self. A severe reaction to bath salts is rhabdomyolysis, where there is destruction of muscle fibers and myoglobin (protein) goes into the bloodstream and da