America’s New Drug Problem: Snorting ‘Bath Salts’

All over the U.S., bath salts are being sold with names like “Ivory Wave,” “White Lightning” and “Hurricane Charlie.”

But these aren’t your average bath salts that you pour into the bathtub to soak in after a long, hard day to relax – these so-called bath salts are intended to be snorted, smoked or injected – and users are getting high off of them.

The Drug Enforcement Administration does not regulate these substances, but they are under federal scrutiny, as the effects of these salts are comparable to methamphetamine abuse, according to poison control centers and other law enforcement agencies.

Law officers say some of the substances are being shipped from Europe, but origins are still unclear.

The powders often contain mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV, and can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. The chemicals are in products sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet as bath salts and even plant foods. However, they aren’t necessarily being used for the purposes on the label.

Mississippi lawmakers this week began considering a proposal to ban the sale of the powders, and a similar step is being sought in Kentucky. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state’s poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

One man, Neil Brown, of Fulton, Miss., got high off the bath salts and then slashed his face and stomach. He survived, but authorities said other people have not been so lucky.

In Brown’s case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the advertised bath salts.

“I couldn’t tell you why I did it,” Brown said, pointing to his scars. “The psychological effects are still there.”



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