Bath salts are a new category of designer drug. The name is derived from cases where the medicines were disguised as bath salts. The bath salt, powders, crystals, or flakes often look like Epsom salts, yet are different chemically. It is also sometimes called Dead Sea salt, and can be purchased for a similar cost. These bath salts can help relieve many body conditions, including: cramping, diarrhea, migraine headaches, athlete’s foot, dandruff, heartburn, and colds. Other chemicals in these products, however, can cause reactions that may not be desirable, so it is best to research the chemicals before using them.
Some products containing bath salts include MPPV or neuroleptic chemicals, which are stimulants similar to cocaine. The psychostimulants work by increasing dopamine production in the brain. The increased dopamine helps people with chronic pain and depression. While the use of bath salt may be helpful with the above-mentioned pain and depression, prolonged use of the product can cause hallucinations. This type of product can actually increase the speed of thought and action by stimulating the brain.
Other designer chemical bath salts include tryptamines, which act as hallucinogens (as well as sedatives). They are usually made from phenylethylamine, which is a compound similar to the medical substance ecstasy. Tryptamines function as analgesics, stimulants, and antidepressants.
At this point in time there is no evidence that the psychoactive chemicals in bath salts cause any long term health risks, but there is reason to be concerned about the possible side effects of the chemicals. Most bath salts contain the same active ingredient, which is a synthetic form of amphetamine. In 2021, the European Monitoring Agency for Drugs and Cosmetic (EMCDDA) reported that at least ten bath salt products had tested positive for some kind of a drug in a number of Europe countries. Of the ten, the most popular was a substance calledclonazepam, which is also known as benzodiazepines.
According to the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse, clonazepam was the most frequently prescribed drug in the country in 2021. The most popular brands sold in the United States include Sonata, Librium, and Valium. In a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers from the NIDA emphasized that there is “a lack of reliable data concerning the long-term health consequences of use of these medications.” While they acknowledged that there are “many similarities between recreational drug use and the abuse of prescription drugs,” they recommended that bath salts are “especially concerning” because of the often rapid onset of effects. If you or someone you know has questions about whether bath salts can be used as a recreational drug, it is best to contact a professional substance abuse counselor, who can provide information on where to find help.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, in Europe it is illegal to sell bath salts in bars, and they are closely monitored by authorities in the region. In the Dutch town of Brugge, police confiscated some bath products and arrested a man for selling bath salt on the streets. Authorities believe that the man may have been dealing in psychoactive drugs, and he faces up to five years in prison. In the United Kingdom, police seized a bath salt scam and issued a public warning against the practice.