A new recreational drug with a very ordinary name has been gaining popularity and the results are terrifying.

Bath salts are a type of synthetic drug that's said to be ten times stronger than cocaine and last even longer than its fiercest competitor, methamphetamines. It leaves users anxious, hallucinating, and violent—and it's legal.

But you won't find bath salts in the soap and sundries aisle. They have nothing to do with the products you toss in your bathtub for a nice soothing soak. They are sold in powder, pill, or capsule form over-the-counter in drug paraphernalia shops and online. They're often packaged to look like professional plant foods, cleaning, or beauty products with names like Cloud Nine, Dynamite, and Eight Ball. The color of the product inside ranges from white to tan to yellow and the product itself is cheap, with multiple doses selling for $30 to $50.

The Side Effects of Bath Salts

Teens and young adults may be fooled by the drug's seemingly innocent name and the fact that it's not illegal. That may be why it's become increasingly popular.

The drug is swallowed, snorted, or injected, and for a short time users might experience the pleasure rush and energy high associated with other amphetamines and cocaine. But unlike those drugs, the effects of bath salts often do not wear off and in fact continues to escalate for hours, days, and in some cases, even weeks. Emergency rooms are seeing record numbers of patients with dangerously fast heart rates and high blood pressure, hallucinations, agitation, and aggression. Even when they're sedated with strong anti-anxiety medications, it's often not enough to counteract the effects of the drug they've ingested.

According to the Poison Control Centers, the effects include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Agitation
  • Combative/violent behavior
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations/psychosis
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Chest pain
  • Serious injury, or death

Like methamphetamines, bath salts are manufactured in underground labs and as authorities attempt to outlaw ingredients or control their marketing, manufacturers change their formulas. That makes it difficult for medical authorities to recognize the drug and find ways to counteract its effects.

Talking To Your Teen About Bath Salts

To keep your child safe, talking about drug use is key:

  • Talk to your child directly and ask if they're using drugs or experimenting, "even a little."
  • Model safe and sober behavior and talk about other ways people enjoy themselves and have a good time without using drugs (and alcohol).
  • Keep a close eye on your child's activities and get professional help if needed.

If you're concerned about your child's behavior or suspect he's using any type of illegal drugs, talk to your family doctor about steps you can take to intervene before it's too late.

Dennis Bley, DO, reviewed this article.




The Partnership at DrugFree.org
Bath Salts

PBS Newshour
Bath Salts -The Drug That Never Let's Go
Jenny Marder