Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of just what kind of substance a new drug is and how it may affect the body. I am glad that I became an adult, and all this craziness is long behind me as the new killer drug on the streets seems to be snorting bath salts, which has made some of its users carve themselves up with kitchen knives or go into comas and die. It might be wrapped in paper and swallowed which is referred to as ‘bombed’, and it is also produced as capsules and pills that can be smoked. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of synthetic drugs known on the streets as “bath salts,” “herbal incense” or “potpourri.” Bath salts are a street drug that has seen a spike in popularity, and they can cause serious damage to an individual’s body. It was being sold lawfully as potpourri in head shops under innocent sounding names like “Ivory Wave” before heightened regulations. These are not the products your grandmother might use for a relaxing bath or to add the smell of lavender to her living room; these products are chemically produced to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and marijuana. As a central nervous system stimulant, bath salts affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
Alarmingly, as these synthetic drugs grow in popularity, the number of injuries and deaths caused by them continues to rise. Some young people believe that they are getting high the legal and safe way because the products come in artistic packaging and can be purchased in neighborhood corner stores and gas stations. Bath salts resemble legitimate household bath salt products, but they are a powder sprayed with chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system. These psychoactive chemicals, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), produce effects that are like, but more potent than, cocaine or LSD when injected, smoked or snorted.
Synthetic cathinones, which are more commonly known as bath salts, are human-made stimulants chemically related to cathinone, a substance found in the khat plant that can cause feelings of euphoria and empathy as well as increasing alertness and talkativeness. Khat is a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia, where some people chew its leaves for their mild stimulant effects and some people call it Monkey Dust. Human-made versions of cathinone can be much stronger than the natural product and, in some cases, very dangerous. Bath salts are a type of recreational stimulant whose effects can begin within minutes of consumption. The effects can cause temporary and prolonged amphetamine psychosis. Stimulants create energizing effects but in large amounts can cause fatal overdoses. Stimulants are a popular recreational drug, especially among young adults and college students. Some stimulants like Adderall which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, along with Ritalin, and Vyvanse which treat ADHD symptoms such as poor focus, reduced impulse control, and hyperactivity are used as cognitive enhancers.
Synthetic cathinones are part of a group of drugs that concern public health officials called new psychoactive substances (NPS). NPS are unregulated psychoactive mind-altering substances with no legitimate medical use and are made to copy the effects of controlled substances. They are introduced and reintroduced into the market in quick succession to dodge or hinder law enforcement efforts to address their manufacture and sale. When you become addicted to bath salts, your brain relies on your substance of choice to produce neurotransmitters. Your brain also associates bath salts with pleasure, changing your pleasure and reward system. When you use bath salts, your brain releases too many neurotransmitters. When you don’t use them, you experience a significant depletion of pleasurable neurotransmitters. The depletion causes cravings to use more, which encourages addictive behaviors. Bath salts drug effects can lead to physical addiction, meaning that you will experience severe withdrawal symptoms when you stop using this substance. It is important to get help from a synthetic drug addiction rehab program if you begin using bath salts to get high.
Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #196.