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Synthetic Drugs: Bath Salts

Know the Signs:

  • Anxious and jittery behavior
  • Insomnia, rapid heart rate, nausea, reduced motor control, seizures
  • Severe paranoia, panic attacks, depression, agitation and suicidal thoughts
  • Erratic behavior with potential for hallucinations, violence and self-mutilation
  • Lack of appetite

Bath SaltsBath salts: a powder-like substance containing man-mad chemicals. Described as "fake cocaine" and consumed by snorting, injecting or smoking.

Much like cocaine, bath salts users have expressed fleeting euphoric feelings followed by some very bad feelings, like paranoia, depression, agitation and intense cravings for more. Use of bath salts produces an intense high, extreme energy, increased heart rate, excessive sweating and insomnia. The effects are reported to last six to eight hours but with re-dosing, symptoms of bath salts are prolonged and can cause insomnia for several days. Use of bath salts can lead to addiction, kidney failure and even death.

Bath Salts May Be As Addictive As Cocaine

Bath salts have gained popularity among recreational drug users and act in the brain like cocaine, reveals a study published by Behavioral Brain Research journal. Scientists recently tested the effect of the synthetic drug on mice using "intracranial self-stimulation" (ICSS)–a method that has been used for decades as a way to look at how drugs activate the reward circuitry in the brain, which can lead to addiction. Certain drugs increase the brain's sensitivity to reward stimulation, which in turn makes them work harder to receive the reward.

The researchers measured the mice's wheel-spinning efforts before, during and after they received doses of cocaine or bath salts, and they found that bath salts had the same reward potency as cocaine. These findings suggest that bath salts, although marketed until recently as a relatively benign "legal high"—could be more addictive than people may realize.

*Photos courtesy of the DEA

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