poison control in 2010, in the United States.

When you think of the word “drug” what comes to mind? Probably marijuana, cocaine, lsd, prescriptions but what about bath salts? When I first heard stories about people on bath salts my reaction was you have to be kidding right, but no first popping onto the radar of the DEA and poison control in 2010, this product is causing quite a stir in the United States. Mark Ryan from the LA poison control says in an interview on the Dr. Oz television show “that he has never seen a drug that has caused the problem as quickly and severely as this”.

Making local and national headlines as the new designer drug that is completely legal, for now at least, and very dangerous. It doesn’t stop people from purchasing it and snorting, ingesting, injecting and smoking bath salts. The product was never marketed with the intent of people using it in their bathtubs and the effects were really unknown until it hit markets, it is produced in a small bag with names like ivory snow, blue magic, tranquility, and bolivian bath. In order to be in accordance with U. S. Food and Drug administration the bags were printed with “not for human consumption”.

If this stimulant had been printed with for human consumption, it would have been regulated. Makers are using this as a tactic to skirt below the laws and regulations. Users are said to experience the effects of crystal meth and cocaine but with deep paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis that have caused some to commit suicide. Phone calls to the poison control center have been on the rise since this product has made its appearance. From 303 calls in 2010 to 3,740 calls as of June 30, 2011. (www. aapcc. org, July 7, 2011) Bath salts is becoming a very rapid spreading problem.

Although it seems it doesn’t matter what age or ethnicity you are, this can be very harmful. Because of the easy access it is often tried among teens and young adults. The extreme cases where users have been suicidal and delusional are becoming increasingly alarming. In Mississippi, Neil Brown, a 31 year old man who decided to see what all the hype was about tried bath salts. He became so paranoid that he cut open his face and stomach with a skinning knife. Luckily surviving the attack, but the scars with stay with him forever as a reminder, he says he has tried every drug from heroin to crack and this one is by far the most terrifying.

In another case a 29 year old woman started hallucinating on bath salts while driving and decided to pull over on the highway and exit her vehicle with her two children ages 2 and 5. As she began walking she couldnt carry both children so she dropped the 2 year old on his head along the side of the road, leaving a large cut. Police responded to calls about a child lying along the road and found their mother, Cynthia Palmer walking in the opposite direction holding the 5 year old.

It seems that this is just as harmful to non-users, such as health care officials unfortunately enough, when a person comes in for help while high off bath salts, their paranoia and hallucinations make them believe that the person trying to help them are out to get them. They become combative and dangerous. Whether looking for a way to gain a “high” and pass a typical drug test or because of the ease of getting what is called legal cocaine, the warning “not for human consumption” has not stopped the product from being used in this way. The long term effects on a person are unknown because it is so new to the market.

Is it possible that people are just unaware about how harmful this can be to not only themselves but the people around them? With all the health risks being broadcasted on news stations everywhere, it seems it just made bath salts more popular because of all the attention it is getting. Florida put an emergency ban on the sale and possession of bath salts, causing store owners to take the thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise of off the shelves. It might not last long, because of the overnight ban store owners are furious that they had to cover the cost of all the product that they ordered.

The poison control in Florida is still getting calls even with the ban in place. Although a nationwide ban should be put into effect states including Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi have already passed a law prohibiting the sale or use of synthetic drugs, and at least 20 others have something in the process. States and even counties had to take matters into their own hands because the process to restrict these special chemicals with the United States government and DEA included monitoring the abuse habits, and could potentionally take years.

Pennsylvania, my current state has already signed a bill making the use and sale a criminal offense. August 23, 2011, just over a month away from not being able to be sold in stores, a small corner store near my home is still selling many bags. When I asked about what he will do with all the product he has he said “this stuff is flying off the shelves, I am still ordering it for now”. It has defiantly hit hard here with a lot of Lebanon county resistant’s going to the hospital because they are afraid of dying.

Looking at things from the other perspective is difficult for me because of all the horror stories I have read, but of course there are different ways of looking at it. Is this just a media frenzy? No doubt that the use of bath salts can be harmful but could it be because of misuse? Thousands more people have died by abusing alcohol but that is still legal everywhere, even sold in some grocery stores in various states. The news reports don’t say that more users enjoy their experience than users that completely lose it and harm themselves or their families.

I searched around in blogs and quite a few people actually say they get a feeling of euphoria and feel great, people that are pro bath salts feel why should they be held responsible for others abuse of bath salts. Do they understand that these are chemicals they are putting into their bodies with unknown long term effects? Some could others may not care, still available to anyone with just a couple clicks of a mouse the possibility of this problem just going away is slim. What is in these small packets that pack such a punch? Mainly two different chemicals mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone better know as MDVP.

Mephedrone is a synethitic chemical said to be made in china, that comes in a pill form or powder for users to injest, snort, or inject. First synthesized in 1929 but forgotten until recent years when it was put in a package and sold as a wonderful novelty. The mephedrone produces the same effects as amphetamine and cocaine. Positive side effects of mephedrone are closeness to others, mood lift, mental and physical stimulation, and an overall pleasant experience. The negative effects though is what people need to watch out for increased sweating, increased heart rate, agitation, insomnia, dizziness, and a strong desire to keep doing it.

MDVP just like mephedrone carries similar side effects sexual arousal, heightened intelligence, euphoria but can cause depression, loss of appetite, anxiety, delusions, and paranoia. Should it be that people should decide if this is worth the risks involved? I don’t think so, why don’t they make crack and heroin legal too? This is an addictive drug it will cause more people needed to be rehabilitated and put in jail. As a mother of 4 I know that I cant just make everything dangerous disappear off the radar when they get older, but making people aware of the consequences that could occur I feel would help people realize they don’t want this.

It will not work with everyone of course but I know me even informing others how dangerous this can be has affected their thoughts on it. I am outraged that kids could possibly be buying this stimulant right around the corner. Drugs has become a serious problem in our society and we cant make them fall off the face of the earth, even the legal ones. There will be another drug out once this one becomes banned and it will just be a vicous circle, besides trying to keep up with what is happening with legal substances hurting people and passing new laws we need to focus on preventing our young children from trying these things.