Bath salts on the rise as new designer drug

By Kyra Hall

The term “bath salts” has been a buzzword ever since it was first mentioned that they might be responsible for Saturday’s crazed cannibal attack in Miami. This term has led to much confusion among the average person. What are “bath salts?” Are these the same substances that can be bought at any drugstore like Epsom salts? Many people already have that kind of bath salt in their home. They can rest easy though. The designer drug known as “bath salts” is not actually a common household item.

Also going by the names “Purple Rain,” “Bliss” and many others, “bath salts” are a chemical cocktail made usually of methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. According to the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora D. Volkow, M.D., the name is all part of an attempt to skirt the current laws in place to prevent the sale of designer drugs. Designer drugs are the latest fad in substance abuse. A designer drug is made of substances not yet illegal and designed to get users high without inherent legal consequences. By labeling these drugs as “not for human consumption” and giving them names like “bath salts,” their creators have been able to fly under legal radar. They can be sold online or in drug paraphernalia shops under any number of names. Their composition varies, and their effects are unpredictable.

“Bath salts” have already been implicated in a number of violent crimes. There is not currently a chemical test that can identify whether or not a person has consumed “bath salts,” the only way to know for sure is to ask the user. “Bath salts’” effects have been likened to PCP, cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. Like meth and cocaine, “bath salts” raise the blood pressure and body temperature. Many users of “bath salts” will strip their clothes off because the rise in body temperature is so severe that they feel as though they are burning up. Like PCP, “bath salts” induce a violent euphoria, making to user believe themselves to be invincible. The multiple shots needed to take down Rudy Eugene during the zombie-like cannibalism incident are congruous with records of PCP users, who also display imperviousness to pain. “Bath salts” are also known to produce hallucinations similar to those produced by bad LSD.

In October of 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration passed a ban on several of the chemicals needed to create “bath salts.” There will be a year in which this temporary ban will be evaluated and extended if deemed necessary. It is likely that all the chemicals involved in the production of “bath salts” will be permanently banned. In the meantime, more and more violent incidents of assault and suicide are being linked to the use of this designer drug. The designer drug wave represents a dangerous trend in substance abuse. Designer drugs are able to skirt the laws, and their contents are even more unpredictable and dangerous than the drugs that came before.

The homeless man attacked in Florida, now identified as 65-year-old Ronal Poppo, remains hospitalized and in critical condition. Whether or not his attacker, Rudy Eugene, was on “bath salts” or some other drug is still not entirely clear. If it is proven that Eugene was on “bath salts,” it will be another in a long line of tragic incidents linked to this drug.