Community Commentary: 'Bath salts' a new, dangerous drug

There is a drug craze hitting the streets of Laguna Beach called "bath salts" and this drug has nothing to do with relaxing in the bath tub. Bath salts, or mephedrone, methylone, and/or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), are a new synthetic designer drug used to produce a high in its users via the stimulation of the central nervous system similar to ecstasy. These drugs are labeled as bath salts because distributors realized they can sell them legally as bath products not for human consumption. The product is available over the Internet with names such as Vanilla Sky, Cloud Nine, Blue Silk or Ivory Wave.

Abusers most often snort the drug but may also eat or place it in their rectums. The average dose is 5 to 20 milligrams, but abusers may consume more, often leading to overdose and a visit to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach's emergency department. Additionally, bath salts can also produce panic attacks, agitation, high blood pressure, seizure, thoughts of suicide and homicide, fever and death in its users.

Suicidal thoughts can continue days after the drugs were consumed. Deaths have occurred in consumers using it in as little as two weeks. Long-term use can lead to intense craving if the consumption of the drug is stopped. Consumers of the drug may believe the drug cannot be detected in the blood or urine; however, in July researchers proved it can.

Due to the danger of this drug class, governments at the state and federal level have moved to make them illegal. As of Sept. 7, the Drug Enforcement Administration used its emergency authority to make possessing and selling bath salts illegal in the U.S. for at least one year while the DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review the evidence to determine if bath salts should be permanently controlled. The U.S. government will likely declare that these drugs have no medical value, but high abuse potential, and should be illegal.

If you, a friend, or family member have consumed bath salts, please go to the nearest emergency department for evaluation.

WILLIAM DODGE is an emergency physician at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach.

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