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January 24, 2011 2:23 AM   Subscribe

Bath salts are said to improve cleaning, improve the experience of bathing, serve as a vehicle for cosmetic agents, and some even claim medical benefits. But now bath salts are becoming the next big drug menace.
posted by twoleftfeet (95 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
We need a corollary to Rule 34. If you can imagine it, people will see if it gets them high.
posted by gingerest at 2:34 AM on January 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


Sea salt. Preferably Pacific. That's all you need.
Crazy kids.
posted by geckoinpdx at 2:46 AM on January 24, 2011


This drug war is working great.

Instead of people who want to get high doing so on things that are natural (Hash, Opium, etc..) they are getting high on what people give as gifts when they can't think of anything else to give.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 2:50 AM on January 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


I've generally found law enforcement agencies to be unreliable source of drug information.
posted by ryanrs at 2:57 AM on January 24, 2011 [26 favorites]


They'd previously tried snorting Liam Gallagher's dandruff, but it didn't seem to work.
No, seriously.
/quality journalism
posted by a non e mouse at 3:08 AM on January 24, 2011


Did anyone here actually read the link? THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS. They are not 'plant food'. Random herbs sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids are not 'incense'. These are ruses, because the Federal Analog Drug Act only kicks in if the product in question is intended for human consumption. Neither the buyers nor the sellers nor the police nor the DEA really believe these are bath salts.

Eventually all this stuff will be scheduled, as the DEA recently scheduled the most popular cannabinoids. Meanwhile, new psychoactive chemicals are being developed. The human drive to alter one's consciousness seems to be unstoppable.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:14 AM on January 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


These are "bath salts" in the sense that K2/Spice is "herbal incense". The article never really explains that distinction.
posted by Robin Kestrel at 3:19 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've generally found law enforcement agencies to be unreliable source of drug information.


I receive substance abuse prevention grants for my alternative ed program. I thought the same thing when I received the notice on this a few weeks ago. It's evident that the chemistry is accurate, but I don't know if they have the actual data as to use.

It's nice, however, that they've now informed so many kids how to make/use a new drug!

Here's More from the release I recieved:

The half-gram bottle of bath salts promises an "invigorating" and "energizing" experience.

But to local and federal authorities, it's another dangerous product misused as fake cocaine that's sending youths to emergency rooms and mental hospitals in Florida and across the country.

As federal officials prepare to ban synthetic marijuana, specialty shops and convenience stores across Florida have started stocking up on bottles of bath salts. Louisiana and Florida authorities have linked these bath salts to at least two suicides in Louisiana, 21 calls to Florida poison control centers and dozens of hospital visits in Central and South Florida in the past year.

"We're seeing teenagers experiment with this," said Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, chief of emergency medicine for Broward Health. "They will do stuff that they wouldn't normally do, like dive from a third-story window into a pool. It's very, very dangerous."

These products being sold as "bath salts" are not those commonly to be used in baths, authorities say. Some manufacturers are making designer drugs being sold as bath salts, said Wendy Stephan, health educator with the Florida Poison Information Center in Miami.

Users usually snort the powder and experience effects similar to cocaine and crystal meth, El Sanadi said. But the euphoria often leads to paranoia, chest pains and irregular heart beats.

Those cases have popped up at Broward General Medical Center and other Broward Health hospitals, El Sanadi said.

"They come in confused, disoriented, with high blood pressure," said El Sanadi, who first noticed the trend in spring 2010. "I guarantee you most parents don't even suspect their kids might be doing it."

A half-gram bottle sells for $25-$30.

The "bath salts" are found in many of the shops and gas stations that once sold legal weed, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has reported an alarming increase in abuse of the bath salts.

The Department of Justice says "numerous brands are marketed in all 50 U.S. states and via Internet web sites. Common brand names include Blue Silk, Charge+, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave...and White Lightening."

In December, the DEA listed a chemical, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), found in some of the bath salts as a drug of concern. MPDV stimulates the central nervous system and the federal agency is studying the drug. The chemical reportedly has caused intense panic attacks, psychosis and addiction, according to the DEA, which has no current plans to ban it.

The psychotic effects of the some of these products are what make them so dangerous, said Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa.

"It makes people lose touch with reality," she said. "They're ending up in psychiatric institutions."

These reactions may be linked to MPDV, the chemical which has been found in many of the salts, federal officials said. The chemical is not approved for medical use in the United States, and the United Kingdom banned it in April after linking it to several deaths.

A DEA ban is in the works for synthetic marijuana chemicals found in incense blends, which made headlines in 2010 as thousands of smokers of brands such as K2 and Spice were hospitalized across the country. Federal officials announced plans in November to outlaw the drug, and local authorities say retailers may be looking at fake cocaine as a new way to make money.

"This is all about money," Lantana Police Officer Nelson Berrios said. "The makers know what it is and they're trying to skirt the law by selling it as something else." Some of the products are labeled not for human consumption.

In Palm Beach County, a handful of stores have started selling the products, Berrios said, but abuse does not seem widespread.

Owners and employees of several stores that sell the bath salts declined to comment or wouldn't give their names.

Across the country, poison-control centers got more than 232 calls about bath salts abuse in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In Florida, 21 cases were reported.

The state's first call came in August from Volusia County, said the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, which covers Central Florida. Since then, most of the state's fake cocaine cases are in the Orlando and Gainesville areas.

Skyrocketing overdoses of some products labeled bath salts in Louisiana led Gov. Bobby Jindal to enact an emergency ban of MPDV and other chemicals found in some products on Jan. 6. More than half of the country's cases have been reported there, and law enforcement has connected at least two suicides to the bath salts.

Investigators are uncertain where the powder is made, but some think it comes from Asia and is packaged in the United States.

Kentucky already has filed legislation to ban the substance; the North Dakota's Pharmacy Board has added several of those same chemicals to its banned-substance list.

Kristin Weiser, 43, said she paid $25 for a half-gram bottle of a bath salt product at a Fort Lauderdale gas station in November. She was looking for an energy boost, she said, and it kept her awake for days. The effect was so strong that it scared her and she has left the rest of the bottle untouched. "It needs to go off the market," she said. "I haven't touched it, I just won't."

INFORMATIONAL BOX:

Fake cocaine facts

Product: Sold as bath salts, plant food and insect repellant. May contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), an addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system

Effects: Euphoria, empathy and alertness similar to cocaine and ecstasy

Side effects: Increased heart rate, high blood pressure, psychosis, panic attacks

Duration: 5 mg dose can last three to eight hours

History: First seizure reported in Germany in 2007, banned in the United Kingdom April 2010

Price: $25-$50 per 50 mg packet

Exposure: Poison control centers reported 232 calls about bath salts abuse in 2010. In Florida, 21 cases were reported

Source: DEA, American Association of Poison Control Centers, Florida Poison Information Centers
posted by HuronBob at 3:21 AM on January 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts, with their complex chemical names, are an emerging menace in several U.S. states

Damn those complex chemical names!
posted by GeckoDundee at 3:24 AM on January 24, 2011 [32 favorites]


Again, this is an argument for legalization, regulation and harm reduction, as well as health care both mental and physical.

In a rational world these would be labeled as exactly what they are. Research chemicals. Research chemicals aren't known. Putting them into your body is extremely risky both the short and long term views.

And in the end it's just more collateral damage and casualties of the drug war and prohibition.
posted by loquacious at 3:25 AM on January 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


Did anyone here actually read the link? THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS.

Yes, but it's far less amusing to imagine people snorting unregulated chemicals than a Lush bath bomb. Also, less relaxing, less fragrant, less soothing for your legs after a hard day's work etc.
posted by londonmark at 3:28 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The chemical reportedly has caused intense panic attacks, psychosis and addiction, according to the DEA, which has no current plans to ban it."
[snip]
"A DEA ban is in the works for synthetic marijuana chemicals found in incense blends"
[snip]
"This is all about money," Lantana Police Officer Nelson Berrios said.

Well now, as long as they have good intentions. Psychosis and arrythmias, okay; Fake weed, book 'em, Danno.


I'll second AndrewKemendo, even if he might have misinterpreted the headline. All animals seek intoxicants, humans in particular. We can either let the teens waste a few years smoking weed, or we can bury/institutionalize them after they destroy their brains and bodies with untested random chemicals.
posted by pla at 3:31 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gawker posted about this yesterday, using an image of actual bath salts, which seemed to confuse commenters.

Here's a site selling "bath salts" and one selling "Plant food."

There's even a drug forum for people to share their experiences on dosing, side effects, etc.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 3:56 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's far less amusing to imagine people snorting unregulated chemicals than a Lush bath bomb

It's also amusing, even clown-like, to imagine people snorting whipped-cream chargers. But they do.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:03 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS. They are not 'plant food'. Random herbs sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids are not 'incense'. These are ruses, because the Federal Analog Drug Act only kicks in if the product in question is intended for human consumption. Neither the buyers nor the sellers nor the police nor the DEA really believe these are bath salts.

This really, really can't be emphasised enough. This story has got a lot of coverage (I've seen it reprinted in New Zealand), so we need to speak out against misinformation. (I'm wondering if anyone will read this and try to get high off actual bath salts?)

Use of MDPV and mephedrone is pretty widespread in the UK (the latter, especially, as it was legal for quite a while). The article's right that a lot of users binge on it. I never heard of anyone mutilating themselves or attacking others while under the influence, though. (And there was a big media scare about mephedrone a year or so ago, so you'd expect to hear those sort of stories). On the other hand, a combination of methylone, mephedrone, and Primal Scream performing Screamadelica live may just be one of the best experiences of your life. Allegedly.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:06 AM on January 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did anyone here actually read the link? THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS.

The article doesn't actually state that in clear terms (unless I overlooked that passage).
posted by _Lasar at 4:06 AM on January 24, 2011


I'm wondering if anyone will read this and try to get high off actual bath salts?

Or if anyone will try to relax by soaking in a bath of synthetic cocaine.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:08 AM on January 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


twoleftfeet : It's also amusing, even clown-like, to imagine people snorting whipped-cream chargers. But they do.

Those contain nothing but nitrous oxide, the same "laughing gas" the dentist gives you. I suspect you knew that, based on your pun about clowns, but many folks here might not.

I'd rather see people huffing nitrous any day over unknown phenylethylamine analogues.
posted by pla at 4:09 AM on January 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hmm... Hurricane Charlie .... sounds.. relaxing!
posted by a non e mouse at 4:10 AM on January 24, 2011


Yes, but it's far less amusing to imagine people snorting unregulated chemicals than a Lush bath bomb.

Ironic since a Lush bath bomb can lead to your credit card getting hacked ;p Ah, the webs that we weave, when we practice to deceive.
posted by infini at 4:14 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Drug control officials should be held to strict requirements when they report on a new menace to society -- at least as strict as the laws they are proposing against them. For instance

They should be required to give explicit numbers of how many people have actually used the substance, and cite the source of their information.

They should identify the precise danger of the substance, and cite laboratory studies.

They should be able to explain why this particular danger is worth legislating against, and worth the expense of banning and enforcement by producing a detailed cost benefit analysis. They need to be able to prove that a handful of hillbillies smashing their heads against the wall is a threat so grave that it deserves the attention of state and local governments, and more deficit spending on their part to control.

They shouldn't be able to get away with declaring something "an emerging menace" or "it makes people lose touch with reality. They're ending up in psychiatric institutions." How many people? And why should I care?

The FDA requires legitimate pharmaceutical companies to produce massive amounts of research, produced over the course of many years, before they are permitted to sell a new drug. Law passers and enforcement agencies should be required to produce an equal amount of detailed research before they are allowed to ban a new drug.
posted by Faze at 4:19 AM on January 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


Can't we just ban bath bombs because they stink up the entire area where they are sold? I'd rather ride the bus next to a chainsmoker than go into any stores within 5 shops of a Lush store.
posted by srboisvert at 4:20 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's also amusing, even clown-like, to imagine people snorting whipped-cream chargers. But they do.

Dddoooonnnn'tttt kknnooccck iiitttt uuunntilllll yyyyooouuu'vvveeee tttrrrriiiieeeeedddd iiiiitttttt.
posted by Jimbob at 4:23 AM on January 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


Huff all the N20 you want, as long as it's medical grade or food grade. Just don't refill your tank at the speed shop. Let me second loquacious here.
posted by fixedgear at 4:29 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Instead of people who want to get high doing so on things that are natural (Hash, Opium, etc..) they are getting high on what people give as gifts when they can't think of anything else to give."

You can get high on iTunes gift cards?!
posted by unigolyn at 4:32 AM on January 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


I remember reading about this stuff a while back, except the scare was in the UK.

You know, times may change quickly with all of our fancy technology, but a good old fashioned drug scare never goes out of style!
posted by palidor at 4:33 AM on January 24, 2011


THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS.

Sadly, this will not matter one whit, once your local eyewitness news team gets wind of it. Brace yourselves for "Is bathtime killing your children? What you need to know to protect your loved ones. A News-8 investigation team report, next."
posted by Thorzdad at 4:45 AM on January 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


The innovation of skirting the designer drug laws this way is either a testament to capitalism ("This is all about money,") or to the creativity that comes from consciousness expanding chemicals. At any rate, it's clear which side of the drug war is the one that's out of touch with reality.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:45 AM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Faze: Law passers and enforcement agencies should be required to produce an equal amount of detailed research before they are allowed to ban a new drug.

Well said. We had this in New Zealand, for a brief while. The bar was set very low, though: as soon as research showed any evidence that the drug could be harmful, it was banned (and a whole class of drugs was banned; the piperazines, when the research had focused primarily on BZP alone). Still, at least the government was making decisions based on some evidence.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:46 AM on January 24, 2011


Referring to a whole host of random substances as 'cannabinoids' is inaccurate. If you don't understand the chemistry, please don't use the words. A 'cannabinoid' isn't some generic term for a 'legal high'. Most of the compounds in question here bear as much resemblance to natural cannabinoids as they do to bath salts.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:49 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


This banning of substances is a terribly ineffective approach. The authorities should address the root of the problem: outlaw any attempts to have fun or make yourself feel better. Exemptions could be made for activities that generate revenue for major corporations, such as drinking Seagrams products or attending NASCAR events, but stuff like eating homemade cookies or watching The Daily Show would be verboten.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:50 AM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


These youth today... all they want to get is clean. So much for the "dirty hippie" here comes the "squeaky clean bath boy".
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:51 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


>Did anyone here actually read the link? THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS.

The article doesn't actually state that in clear terms (unless I overlooked that passage).


It's in the link; while the Washington Post article wasn't referring to epsom [MgSO4], but saline crystals used as a carrier for the active ingredient found in Qat (Khat).
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:55 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did anyone here actually read the link? THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS.

And thank God for that! Don't want anyone huffing on my Footherapy, getting that marvelous product taken off the market. I get high from a good foot soak. No huffing required.
posted by nickyskye at 4:56 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Carlson's no dummy...he's putting it on his feet.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:57 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sheila Byrd failed to do her research or perhaps she just likes to make her stories more sensational. In any event she does not appear to be a real journalist despite publishing under the Post's moniker. It seems like they let anyone pose as journalists these days.
posted by caddis at 5:04 AM on January 24, 2011


And whoa, the side effects are weird! Genital shrinkage?? A bruises on knees? wtf?
posted by nickyskye at 5:06 AM on January 24, 2011


Referring to a whole host of random substances as 'cannabinoids' is inaccurate. If you don't understand the chemistry, please don't use the words. A 'cannabinoid' isn't some generic term for a 'legal high'.

Not all of the new drugs are cannabinoids but several of them are. It's a proper label being applied somewhat sloppily.
posted by scalefree at 5:10 AM on January 24, 2011


It's in the link; while the Washington Post article wasn't referring to epsom [MgSO4], but saline crystals used as a carrier for the active ingredient found in Qat (Khat).

True, that's there. But I for one am not familiar with any of the chemicals mentioned in the article, and would happily continue assuming that these can be found in regular bath salts that would actually be used to salt baths. The most obvious pointer is the pricing, really.
posted by _Lasar at 5:11 AM on January 24, 2011


Ha ha, Short Attention Sp's link to a "bath salts" seller...


WE DO NOT SHIP BATH SALTS TO LOUISIANA

ORDERS FROM LOUISIANA WILL BE CANCELLED
posted by orme at 5:35 AM on January 24, 2011


The Government can have my bath salts when it pries them from my cold, wrinkled (but very soft) fingers!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 AM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"They will do stuff that they wouldn't normally do, like dive from a third-story window into a pool. It's very, very dangerous."

Um, I've done that while stone cold sober. Better not show that cop this video.
posted by photoslob at 5:42 AM on January 24, 2011


Genital shrinkage?? A bruises on knees?
How does one get bruises on your knees if your genitals have shrunk?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:42 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the WaPo article, for me, served an ad about one tip for a tiny belly, and the first sentence in the article is about how this dude slit his stomach up after snorting bath salts. Talk about your juxtapositions!
posted by Mister_A at 5:58 AM on January 24, 2011


On the other hand, if this sort of recklessly irresponsible journalism (finally) leads to the demise of Bath & Body Works, I'm all for it.
posted by schmod at 6:19 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is actually kind of ironic, because epsom salts were actually one of the first modern drug controversies. A British apothecary isolated a particular kind of salt from Epsom for use in bathing. Salts were the big area of pharmaceutical research at the time, and this was the first time someone managed to collect the actual salts in a way that could be reconstituted, permitting people anywhere to receive whatever benefits were to be had from the waters without having to go to the actual hot spring.

A variety of knockoffs sprung up almost immediately, leading to one of the first pharmaceutical IP disputes as well as a serious public health issue, as a number of the competitors were using minerals which where either just regular old table salt or actively harmful.

The story is told in the book I linked to above, but the relevant chapter, starting on page 83, is sadly not part of the preview.

Everything old is new again, apparently.
posted by valkyryn at 6:20 AM on January 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


The FDA requires legitimate pharmaceutical companies to produce massive amounts of research, produced over the course of many years, before they are permitted to sell a new drug. Law passers and enforcement agencies should be required to produce an equal amount of detailed research before they are allowed to ban a new drug.

The amount of time it takes to do research on new compounds and get some sort of meaningful data is prohibitively long given the nature of the 'designer drug' industry. In between the time it hits the market and when research is wrapped up you're going to just let them go on selling an untested drug? If I wouldn't trust Pfizer to do it, I sure as hell wouldn't trust SPEEDY DAN'S HOUSE OF BATH SALTS AND GLASS PIPES to keep me safe. Hell, most of these compounds couldn't even be tested on humans in the first place. Establishing their (lack of) safety in humans would take YEARS.

I'm all for total legalization of pot. I think heroin of all things should probably be decriminalized, if for no other reason than that it's a known quantity. I'm extremely skeptical of news reports about a new drug menace. However, that doesn't mean I'm cool with companies coming up with a novel compound that seems likely to get you high like a known one, selling it until it gets banned, and moving on to another and another and another.
posted by pjaust at 6:35 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This confused the hell out of me the first time I saw it on reddit, till people started chiming in with experiences. Check out erowid
posted by Ad hominem at 6:37 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any move to ban or gimp these bath salts is SOCIALISM! And should be opposed by idiots everywhere.
posted by Mister_A at 7:40 AM on January 24, 2011


Or if anyone will try to relax by soaking in a bath of synthetic cocaine.
As long as the blood of virgins is so readily available, why bother.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:49 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delete.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:49 AM on January 24, 2011


Is it just me or does every single article about one of these new-drug menaces read like something out of Reefer Madness? I don't know how it could be medically possible that every illegal high has exactly the same set of effects and dangers to the use (not to mention the heroic law enforcement officers that have to subdue them). When you've heard this same spiel about every drug from angel dust to pot, you get to the point where no warning about illegal drugs is credible at all.
posted by immlass at 7:53 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is what confuses me (from HuronBob's DEArelease):
Kristin Weiser, 43, said she paid $25 for a half-gram bottle of a bath salt product at a Fort Lauderdale gas station in November. She was looking for an energy boost, she said, and it kept her awake for days. The effect was so strong that it scared her and she has left the rest of the bottle untouched. "It needs to go off the market," she said. "I haven't touched it, I just won't."
So a 43-year-old woman sees bath salts in a convenience store labeled "Energyzing" and instead of taking a bath in it,she snorts it? I'm guessing she had already heard/read about this stuff because otherwise how would she know what to do? Now that the Washington Post has published the story (which was printed in yesterday's Raleigh News & Observer) more people will be on the lookout for very expensive bath salts in convenience stores.

Also, how do the stores get this stuff? Are they getting phone calls from suppliers promising big sales? Do they know what they are selling and how dangerous it is? Because I'm pretty sure my local truck stop convenience store sells all sorts of Energy powders/drinks/gels/pills but I'd be very surprised to see anything labeled as bath salts as truck drivers don't normally have time or facilities for long,luxurious baths and the type of women who do enjoy bath salts don't usually shop there.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:58 AM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


They aren't real bath salts, and are not marketed as such except for the name. You would not pay fifty bucks a gram for "bath salts" if you were the average tub soaker- that right there should be an indication that these are not for cosmetic purposes.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:06 AM on January 24, 2011


Heh, TheWhiteSkull, I thought of that WKRP episode too.

All of this makes me nostalgic for the xeroxed warnings about LSD stickers they'd hand out at my school. I was always a little disappointed that no one had ever offered me any. We had to get high off of marks-a-lots and scratch n' sniff stickers.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 AM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just in case it's not clear: a gram is very small. Like 8 coffee beans.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:08 AM on January 24, 2011


>Did anyone here actually read the link? THESE ARE NOT BATH SALTS

Just so: it's a fiction closely akin to that of selling amyl nitrite poppers as "air freshener".
posted by raygirvan at 8:09 AM on January 24, 2011


Hah, the article is hilariously out of touch.

twoleftfeet: "it's far less amusing to imagine people snorting unregulated chemicals than a Lush bath bomb

It's also amusing, even clown-like, to imagine people snorting whipped-cream chargers. But they do
"

Nobody "snorts" them - they inhale the food grade N2O inside just like William James.
posted by turkeyphant at 8:13 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of these days we'll realize that the most prevalent form of "drug abuse" is people using drug use as a scare tactic to make political hay.
posted by atbash at 8:16 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


The government sponsored War on Soap is ridiculous. Personal hygiene should be treated as a problem, not as a crime.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:30 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So wait. Mephedrone is available in the use now? When did this happen?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:36 AM on January 24, 2011


How long until we have to show photo I.D. and sign a register in order to buy bath salts?!?
posted by kuppajava at 8:41 AM on January 24, 2011


Is it just me or does every single article about one of these new-drug menaces read like something out of Reefer Madness?

I was noticing that, especially the rush to identify the horrific and tragic stories connected to the panic du jour.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2011


Effects: Euphoria, empathy and alertness

yeah, throw the book at those happy motherfuckers
posted by liza at 8:54 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just kept thinking of this SNL skit with Emma Stone. (Hulu)
posted by Madamina at 8:56 AM on January 24, 2011


I was noticing that, especially the rush to identify the horrific and tragic stories connected to the panic du jour.

I think it is really easy to mess yourself up or just simply freak out on a chemical that you have no experience with. You can pick this stuff up at the gas station, I'm guessing people expect ephedrine, not meth. It seems like alot of adults buy this stuff thinking it will be like pounding a couple Red Bull.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:07 AM on January 24, 2011



The amount of time it takes to do research on new compounds and get some sort of meaningful data is prohibitively long given the nature of the 'designer drug' industry. In between the time it hits the market and when research is wrapped up you're going to just let them go on selling an untested drug? If I wouldn't trust Pfizer to do it, I sure as hell wouldn't trust SPEEDY DAN'S HOUSE OF BATH SALTS AND GLASS PIPES to keep me safe. Hell, most of these compounds couldn't even be tested on humans in the first place. Establishing their (lack of) safety in humans would take YEARS.


I'll be okay with the instant ban as long as once a drug is proven largely safe we unban it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:22 AM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good lord will these puritans ever ban enough things? Ban everything. Everything. Just go ahead and ban everything except for fast food and corn syrup. We'll live like glorious American kings.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:35 AM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ryan said cathinone, the parent substance of the drugs, comes from a plant grown in Africa and is regulated.

As Smart Dalek pointed out, cathinone is the active ingredient in qat / khat, commonly chewed in the horn of Africa, and Yemen.

I wonder what exactly they do to make it so strong that it causes powerful hallucinations & so on, because when I was in Ethiopia a bunch of khat the size of a bunch of parsley would require you to chew for hours for a mildly stimulating effect about the size of half a cup of espresso. Sure, it's psychoactive, but only really in the same way that you might describe tea as a drug.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:25 AM on January 24, 2011


On afterthought, that was a stupid comment of mine. I also took various kinds of legally-available coca leaf products in Peru, and obviously they're not the same thing as refined cocaine. Chemical refining process strengthens and/or transforms active plant ingredients: news at 11.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2011


You can't ban jenkem.
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 AM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Americans must be horribly weak; when I read about this stuff's use in the UK it seemed like yet another designer drug that people would take for various recreational reasons, but this report makes it seem like one dose inevitably leads to tearing your own throat open with whatever's handy. Do we lack a stiff upper lip, or moral character, or something?
posted by jtron at 10:39 AM on January 24, 2011


This article makes it sounds like this is the meth addict's next choice if they can't get pseudoephedrine. I'm guessing meth withdrawal plus whatever this shit is will probably result in some less than ideal outcomes.
posted by electroboy at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is really interesting stuff...I've been seeing lots of new developments in the RC scene recently. There's been quite a bit of media attention recently, and if past patterns hold, it'll start increasing, the DEA will list some substances as drugs of concern, and in 6-12 months it will most likely ban them and bust some of the shadier operations. Then most places will back off aggressive marketing or shut down due to fear of prosecution. In the mean time, people will be working on producing more unscheduled substances, which will eventually be released. Rinse. Repeat.

The idea of selling these chemicals in prepacked, mis-labeled, dose-sized containers is something I haven't seen outside European head shops. Back in the day (pre-Operation WebTryp) general consensus was that you were to steer clear of any packaging or marketing that might imply these chemicals were for human consumption, and any implication to the vendor that you were intending to consume them was grounds for denying sale. Things didn't always work out that way, which allowed some notable vendors (and consumers) to get arrested under the analogue act.

If the human desire to alter consciousness and self-medicate was simply accepted, I think we could find much better ways of addressing the issues of public health - both on a personal and societal level. We could have separate distribution centers for "off-label" products, with something on the order of a Pharmacy Tech or even a Pharmacist/Physician with special knowledge of the substances in question. They could inform the individual of the known and unknown properties of the substance, methods of administration, dosage, usage, where to get help if they are developing an addiction, and check on their general health. They could be regulated and monitored, if desired, to restrict distribution through unauthorized channels and to inexperienced or under-aged individuals. Any chemicals that did not have a history of use or study could be additionally labeled/categorized and distributed only to individuals that could demonstrate at least a basic understanding of that class of drugs and sign a waiver of responsibility. Substances would have to be certified as pure and properly labeled, with penalties attached. Advertising would not be allowed. I think a legal exception should be made for plants, where the cultivation of a plant is never a crime. They self-replicate and grow without intervention, and it's silly to ban them just because they can be used to alter our consciousness/nervous system.

However, these are just some of my ideas and I wouldn't expect them to be enacted everywhere. I think people should be able to decide how they want these matters handled in their community. I think many different ways of addressing the personal and societal impact of recreational or off-label drug use would develop and we could see for ourselves how they play out. For instance, a community may decide to only legalize a few select substances for recreational use whose effects and side-effects are well-known. One community may provide substances with no guarantees and little regulation, while another may choose to provide more regulation and additional guarantees of safety. It does not take much thought to come up with a better system than we have right now, which is mandated not only in our entire nation, but also in other places around the world thanks to that nut Anslinger's work with the UN (for instance, the indigenous practice of chewing coca leaf).

So far as I can see, our main responsibility as a society is to ensure that we are providing the resources needed for us to use drugs as safely and effectively as possible, and providing the knowledge (including what is not known) and training necessary for us to make informed decisions in what we consume and how while providing a means to address any harms caused in the process.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Question: Do these things even work as bath salts? Because it doesn't sound like they would.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2011


Well, they seem to make excellent exfoliants.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:59 PM on January 24, 2011


Sidhedevil: "Question: Do these things even work as bath salts? Because it doesn't sound like they would"

To clarify: no. Not ever. This is the same creative labelling that's been used in the RC scene for at least the last decade, most notably with the "plant food" phenomenon.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:14 PM on January 24, 2011


Only when you have a knife nearby.
posted by dabitch at 3:20 PM on January 24, 2011


So where should I buy this stuff? I'm concerned that some of the sites are going to be scams and my local gas stations just sell hoagies.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:26 PM on January 24, 2011


These are "bath salts" in the sense that K2/Spice is "herbal incense". The article never really explains that distinction.

See also "room odorisor."

And, c'mon, "Reddi-wip."
posted by Sys Rq at 4:05 PM on January 24, 2011


Americans must be horribly weak; when I read about this stuff's use in the UK it seemed like yet another designer drug that people would take for various recreational reasons, but this report makes it seem like one dose inevitably leads to tearing your own throat open with whatever's handy. Do we lack a stiff upper lip, or moral character, or something?

Doesn't it affect everybody different?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:11 PM on January 24, 2011


Holy crap. I had brief heart failure for a minute before I read the link - my first thought was Epsom salt? That innocuous stuff I bath wounded family members in for sprains, strains and wound cleaning? Magnesium sulfate will get you high??? And then I read the link and relaxed.
posted by PuppyCat at 4:28 PM on January 24, 2011


HuronBob quotes "As federal officials prepare to ban synthetic marijuana, specialty shops and convenience stores across Florida have started stocking up on bottles of bath salts. Louisiana and Florida authorities have linked these bath salts to at least two suicides in Louisiana, 21 calls to Florida poison control centers and dozens of hospital visits in Central and South Florida in the past year. "

Those numbers don't seem all that scary to me. Anyone know how those numbers compare to say Acetaminophen or alcohol?

kuppajava writes "How long until we have to show photo I.D. and sign a register in order to buy bath salts?!?"

Or anything really. Kids in isolated North communities in Canada get high on gasoline; I bet with a little imagination anything available at the 7-11 could be used to either get high or harm others. Cripes apples can be used to create a deadly poison.
posted by Mitheral at 5:42 PM on January 24, 2011


This is why we can't have nice smells.
posted by gomichild at 6:59 PM on January 24, 2011


Cripes apples can be used to create a deadly poison.

Don't forget beans.
posted by XMLicious at 7:18 PM on January 24, 2011




Mephedrone provided me 8 hours of relief from severe Seroquel withdrawal on my birthday. Without that level of serotonin deficiency, the effects are more similar to mdma than most of what the kids on the streets are buying as "ecstasy" these days, except that it's NOWHERE NEAR as strong as mdma. Elation? Check. Empathy? Check. Ability/Desire to dance or talk or have sex all night? Well.. maybe not *all* night (except that sex part hehe).

I can see the abuse potential as well as the possibility of developing a habit, and of course, I have no way of knowing the MAJOR LONG TERM EFFECTS* [if any]. Even alcohol can be dangerous. Moderation is almost always key with recreational intoxicants.

*I like scare-caps!
posted by MuChao at 9:09 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two-star review from the online vendor linked earlier:

Dissapointed

Posted by Dustin on 13th Nov 2010


From the reviews here I was eagerly awaiting a relaxing, meditative and peaceful bath but the product I received had no effects on my very *normal* bath.

I'm so disappointed because everyone else has given these bath salts such glowing reviews, and I was hoping to take my turn writing a lovely review, but unfortunately the experience I had with this product produced the absolutely same effects as if I were taking a regular bath.

I also ordered other products along with this and have had great baths, especially the Bolivian bath salts.

I just don't know what happened with this one, and this was the most exciting product in my order.

posted by eegphalanges at 9:45 PM on January 24, 2011


I like that the graphic design on the product labels are similar to those of indoor tanning oils and Affliction T-shirts. Target your demographic, y'know.
posted by eegphalanges at 9:48 PM on January 24, 2011


Too busy snorting Ovaltine to read this article now.
posted by Mael Oui at 9:53 PM on January 24, 2011


From the Daily Telegraph, before the drug was banned in the UK last spring:

I Took Mephedrone and I Liked It
What's 'meow meow' actually like? Dr Max Pemberton found out for himself.

posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:10 PM on January 24, 2011


Those numbers don't seem all that scary to me. Anyone know how those numbers compare to say Acetaminophen or alcohol?

Keep in mind the denominator: there are probably a thousand times more users of acetaminophen and alcohol than of mephedrone/methylone/MDPV. Of course there are going to be more total medical problems with alcohol because of the much larger user base. And medical problems with acetaminophen are extremely rare except in deliberate overdose.

Of these three beta-ketones that are most commonly found in 'bath salts', MDPV is the most problematic. It's the most potent by weight. A three to six mg dose up the nose produces increased alertness, wakefulness, mild euphoria, and aphrodisia. But more than that causes rapidly increasing anxiety, and ultimately a panic attack. If the user tries to use the drug as they are accustomed to using cocaine, they will have a disaster. A 'line' of MDPV the size of a line of cocaine is a massive overdose. Most users don't have scales that can accurately measure a safe dose.

Curiously, if dosed correctly, MDPV may be the safest of the 'bath salts'. Like cocaine and methylphenidate/Ritalin/Concerta, it is a norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitor. It is unlikely to cause neurologic damage, while non-vesicular dopamine releasers like mephedrone and methylone have the potential to do so.

MDPV does seem to have a high abuse and addiction potential, to judge from user reports. So does mephedrone. Methylone's potential for abuse seems much lower, for some reason. There are few if any reports of methylone disasters.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:20 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oops, my mistake, MDPV is not the same as mephedrone, so that article I linked to above is about an entirely different drug.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:33 PM on January 24, 2011


Slithy_Tove writes "Keep in mind the denominator: there are probably a thousand times more users of acetaminophen and alcohol than of mephedrone/methylone/MDPV. Of course there are going to be more total medical problems with alcohol because of the much larger user base."

True. However if they are selling this stuff in truck stops and convenience stores the user base has to be significant. This article states an annual alcohol related ER visit rate of 13.1 per 10,000 adult population in Miami-Dade County. Depending on what they mean by "dozens" (a suspiciously vague number) a user base of 30-40K in south and central Florida would put this on par with alcohol.

Anyways I wasn't trying to defend the use or condemn it; just trying to get a handle on how serious a problem this is separate from the LEO and Media hype and I know we have at least one user involved in poison control who could put it in perspective.
posted by Mitheral at 11:12 PM on January 24, 2011


So where should I buy this stuff? I'm concerned that some of the sites are going to be scams and my local gas stations just sell hoagies.

This is always a dilemma. Generally speaking, the more obscure and difficult to contact people are the best, for reasons of discretion. The best way to find out, especially if you're looking to do a variety of research over extended periods of time, is to participate regularly in forums dedicated to the discussion of psychoactives. As far as public/search-indexed material goes, for some reason there is a lot of discussion on the topix forum. I've seen a bit on reddit and somethingawful as well. Every now and then, there will be sites where you can get ratings if you already have the URL of a vendor, but of course these are not a guarantee, either. Your keywords in searches will be the chemical names of the substances, any special terms such as "plant food" or "bath salts" or commercial names like "K2" or "Spice" in the case of "herbal incense", and typical terms that indicate a supplier, vendor, or merchant. It's a journey down the rabbit hole at times, but the dedicated seeker will reach their goal.
posted by nTeleKy at 12:18 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


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