Bath Salts: Illegal and Deadly

“Bath Salts” – Emerging and Dangerous Products

By Dr. Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

“Bath Salts,” the newest fad to hit the shelves (virtual and real), is the latest addition to a growing list of items that young people can obtain to get high. The synthetic powder is sold legally online and in drug paraphernalia stores under a variety of names, such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Red Dove,” “Blue Silk,” “Zoom,” “Bloom,” “Cloud Nine,” “Ocean Snow,” “Lunar Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “White Lightning,” “Scarface” and “Hurricane Charlie.” Because these products are relatively new to the drug abuse scene, our knowledge about their precise chemical composition and short- and long-term effects is limited, yet the information we do have is worrisome and warrants a proactive stance to understand and minimize any potential dangers to the health of the public.

We know, for example, that these products often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals, such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. These drugs are typically administered orally, by inhalation or by injection, with the worst outcomes apparently associated with snorting or intravenous administration. Mephedrone is of particular concern because, according to the United Kingdom experience, it presents a high risk for overdose. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (they are sometimes touted as cocaine substitutes), so they present a high abuse and addiction liability. Consistent with this notion, these products have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also confer a high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of “bath salts” are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous.

Unfortunately, “bath salts” have already been linked to an alarming number of ER visits across the country. Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers have indicated that ingesting or snorting “bath salts” containing synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions. It is noteworthy that, even though we are barely two months into 2011, there have been 251 calls related to “bath salts” to poison control centers so far this year. This number already exceeds the 236 calls received by poison control centers for all of 2010. In response to this emerging threat, several states, including Hawaii, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky and North Dakota, have introduced legislation to ban these products, which are incidentally labeled as “not fit for human consumption.” In addition, several counties, cities and local municipalities have also taken action to ban these products.

We will continue to monitor the situation and promote research on the extent, pharmacology and consequences of “bath salts” abuse. In the meantime, I would like to urge parents, teachers, and the public at large to be aware of the potential dangers associated with the use of these drugs and to exercise a judicious level of vigilance that will help us deal with this problem most effectively.

4 Responses to "Bath Salts: Illegal and Deadly"

  1. Tricia   July 1, 2012 at 12:07 am


    How about meeting at 4th and Bonanza tomorrow at 3 pm and duking it out? Winner take all. Convert words into action? Or would you rather just spew silent venom? Now THAT would be some infantile fun, even for an idiot!

    • jimbo   July 1, 2012 at 12:30 am

      please a little decorum. you have been commenting all over this site, whining and complaining about every little thing. and if you think your comments weren’t rude or venomous, just stand outside yourself for a moment and take a look at what you wrote. as far as violence, i am a pacifist, and will gladly turn the other cheek if you want to slap me again lol

  2. jimbo   June 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    really tricia. from time to time all of us need to be reminded of these potentially deadly occurences. maybe there is someone out there that hasn’t heard about this yet. and for you to get all twisted up about it is infantile at best. you are probably too young to remember the phrase “those that fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it” check your history book. you should have learned about this phrase in the 7th or 8th grade. just go to for more and i’m sorry but if you think she posted 2 pictures of herself in this forum, your are an idiot.

  3. Tricia   June 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Doctor, PLEASE… Your not saying anything that hasn’t already been said– thousands of times. Most anything done is excess is bad for you. Not much that isn’t. Heck, you can even drink too much water and die. But you know that. So, how are you – through your action, not your words – helping things to get better? Merely spreading the word AGAIN? And do you really need two photos of yourself posted?


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