Bath salts, also known as designer cathinones or synthetic stimulants, were first formulated in the 1920s and after a long hiatus have seen resurgence in the 21st century. The unusual name, “bath salts,” is taken from the guise the drugs are sold at head shops and convenience stores. Other guises the drug is labeled as include plant food, jewelry cleaner, and baby powder. Common names for these products include: “Bliss,” “Blue Silk,” “Cloud Nine,” “Purple Wave,” and “White Lightening.”
Bath Salts are known as a designer drug. A designer drug is a drug developed in a laboratory designed to mimic the effects of various existing drugs including, in the case of bath salts, stimulants like amphetamine. Chemists creating these various drugs use substances that are not yet classified as illegal to create their products. This allows synthetic drugs, like Spice and bath salts, to be sold on the internet, head shops, and even at the local convenience store. It also allows these drugs to go undetected by standard drug testing.
Two of the most common synthetic compounds used in the creation of these bath salt products are Mephedrone and MDPV. Mephedrone and MDPV are man-man versions of a naturally occurring stimulant known as cathinone. In nature, cathinone is found in the khat plant of Africa and Arabian Peninsula.
Bath Salts can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or put into a solution and injected. The effect of using bath salts is often compared to other stimulants like amphetamine and cocaine. The symptoms of using bath salts may include rapid heart rate, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, panic attack, seizures, agitation, aggression, and dehydration. There is an increased risk of heart attack and/or stroke when using bath salts.
Due to the relative short time on the resurgence there is little evidence on whether or not bath salts are additive or what effects they may have on various body systems.
In July 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act made it illegal to possess, use, or distribute many of the chemicals used in the creation of bath salts including Mephedrone and MDPV by placing them under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.