The Truth Behind Bath Salts
When you hear about the designer drug known as “bath salts,” you most likely imagine a dangerous drug causing horror-story-like side effects for users. Time and again, this drug has popped up in the news, often accompanied by strange or lurid details. Shrouded in mysterious stories of drug-fueled cannibals and substance abusers with super strength, bath salts have taken on a mythology of their own since entering the public sphere. But are bath salts, really, and what risks do they pose for users?
Origin of Bath Salts
Despite the common misconception, the illegal drugs known as “bath salts” are not the same as therapeutic salts like Epsom, which are actually meant to be used in baths. Instead, these drugs took on the name bath salts because their white, gritty appearance has allowed them to be disguised as bath salts in several instances.
Bath salts, which are more officially known as synthetic cathinones, made their way to the United States in the early 2010s. During this time, bath salts were initially sold as a legal alternative to illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. However, bath salts quickly developed a reputation for being dangerous and unpredictable. In 2012, the US Drug Enforcement Administration declared bath salts a Schedule I controlled substance, making them illegal to possess or sell.
Bath salts are often snorted, smoked, or injected for an intense high. Because of how they are used, bath salts can be hazardous and have been linked to multiple cases of overdose and death. But despite the danger and their illegal status, bath salts continue to be widely available for recreational use. The height of bath salts’ popularity was reportedly in 2011 and 2012, but the dangerous drug remains popular as a relatively cheap option to MDMA, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
Bath salts can be purchased online or in some convenience stores, head shops, and gas stations. Because bath salts are often sold under false pretenses, it is difficult to know what is actually in them. For instance, synthetic bath salts have been known to contain cathinone, amfepramone, mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone, and other synthetic derivatives.
Like many recreational drugs, bath salts are often referred to by many alternative names on the street. Purple wave, lunar wave, ivory wave, white dove, blue silk, stardust, and white lightning are all common alternative names used by dealers and users of this potent killer drug.
Facts vs. Fiction
The most famous and iconic case of bath salts and their side effects occurred in Miami in May of 2012. A 31-year-old carwash operator, Rudy Eugene, attacked and maimed a homeless man, Ronald Poppo. During the encounter, Eugene beat Poppo unconscious, bit off most of Poppo’s face, and attacked him until the police arrived.
Upon arrival, police could not persuade Eugene to stop his attack. Instead, he momentarily paused to growl at the police and then continued as if they weren’t there. Even after being shot by the police, Eugene continued until the Miami PD was required to shoot him an additional five times, resulting in his death.
The entire ordeal lasted a total of 18 minutes, leaving Poppo blind and his face completely disfigured. Police suspected bath salts played a role in Eugene’s strange, vicious behavior but found no sign of the drug upon completing an autopsy. Regardless, the association between Eugene’s case and bath salts was forged in the public mind. Ever since the “Miami Cannibal Attack” in 2012, bath salts have been a common explanation put forth for violent, inexplicable attacks wherever they occur in the United States.
Signs and Symptoms of Bath Salts Abuse
Although bath salts were not explicitly found to be the cause of the “Miami Cannibal Attack,” the fear around this hallucination-inducing drug is valid. Bath salts reportedly affect the brain 10 times more powerfully than cocaine and can lead to detrimental side effects, such as:
- Panic attacks
Additionally, there are reports of accidental overdose and suicide where bath salts are present in the body. According to notable studies, ingesting bath salts could lead to brain swelling, breathing problems, hyperactivity, delirium, suicidal thoughts, and thoughts of self-harm.
Initial symptoms of bath salt abuse differ from those after prolonged use. Over time, the effects of bath salt abuse can become intense and long-lasting. They can include hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, delusions, and aggressive or violent behavior.
If you suspect someone is abusing bath salts, look for signs such as:
- Increased energy or agitation
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
- Tremors or seizures
If you see any of these signs, get help immediately. Bath salt abuse can be dangerous and even deadly. The longer someone has a dependency on the drug, the more difficult it will be for them to overcome their addiction. For more information on help and resources available, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which operates a 24/7 helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).
Identify Bath Salt Use with Countrywide Testing
If you suspect that a loved one may be using bath salts or other dangerous substances, there are resources available that can assist you in detecting illegal drug use. By identifying the drug use, you can confirm your suspicions and take the first step in helping your loved one move past substance abuse to a healthier lifestyle. To help you get started, Countrywide is here to help.
Countrywide Testing is an online retailer of many health-related diagnostic test devices, including drug tests. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be abusing an illegal drug, let Countrywide Testing offer you peace of mind with our FDA-approved at-home drug testing kits. Our drug kits are all analyzed with laboratory services from Phamatech, Inc, a SAMHSA, ISO, CLIA, and CAP licensed laboratory, to provide you with fast and reliable results that you can trust.
When you need answers, Countrywide is here. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!