What Are Bath Salts?

The name sounds innocent enough, like an old-fashioned cure for tired feet. But these days, “bath salts” are far from what you would find in your local soap aisle at the grocery store or day spa. Bath salts are a new type of drug laced with synthetic stimulants, which people use to get high by swallowing, snorting or injecting them. And…they have just been made illegal.

Because these drugs are relatively new and for now unregulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), scientists are not exactly sure of the ingredients in each brand. We do know that the chemicals in these bath salts mimic the effects of amphetamines— stimulants like cocaine or meth—such as racing heart, increased blood pressure and body temperature, and even seizures, which have brought many people to emergency rooms across the country.

According to the head of the Louisiana Poison Center, at least 84 people in that state have been hospitalized after getting high from bath salts. Nationwide, more than 4,000 calls about bath salts have come in to poison centers during the first 7 months of 2011—up from 303 calls in all of 2010.


It is too early to tell what the exact short- and long-term effects from abusing bath salts is, but what little we do know so far is alarming enough. Effects can include extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts, as well as chest pains, soaring blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat. A number of deaths were reported in people who took the drug, including at least one possible suicide.

Several states, including Hawaii, Louisiana, and Michigan, have introduced laws to ban bath salts. The DEA just announced it will make selling or possessing these chemicals illegal for a year while they study them further. SBB will keep you posted on what they learn. If anyone offers you bath salts as a way to get high, let them know not only are they taking big risks, they are also doing something illegal.

A study in the journal Nature recently explored how the drug affects the brain. The data demonstrate that designer methcathinone analogs are substrates for monoamine transporters, with a profile of transmitter-releasing activity comparable to MDMA. Dopaminergic effects of mephedrone and methylone may contribute to their addictive potential, but this hypothesis awaits confirmation. Given the widespread use of mephedrone and methylone, determining the consequences of repeated drug exposure warrants further study.

If you or a loved one needs help, contact Jeff at (941) 586-0929

This information is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.