Learn the Dangers of ‘Bath Salts,’ ‘Spice’

By Jessica Miller

We’ve all seen the frightening headlines about bath salts and synthetic marijuana, but most people do not understand what synthetic drugs are or the harm that they can cause.

The name “bath salts” conjures images of the scented variety used in the bath.

However, the “bath salts” used to get high are different.

Synthetic cathinones, or “bath salts,” are a powder sprayed with chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system.

Bath salts are typically injected, smoked or snorted.

Common side effects include erratic behavior, paranoia, violent combative episodes, dangerously high fever and heart rate, acute psychosis, suicidal thoughts and in some cases death.

Synthetic marijuana, marketed as “incense” or “potpourri,” consists of dried plant material that is sprayed with chemicals that mimic the tetrahydracannabinol found in marijuana.

But “spice” is 50-200 times more potent than marijuana.

Common side effects include depression, paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis and suicidal and homicidal thoughts.

Manufacturers appear to target youth with packaging and pricing.

Both drugs come in colorful foil packages, often featuring animations and trendy names like “Twilight Spice.”

On average, “bath salts” cost $18 per gram compared to cocaine at $167 per gram.

This pricing makes the product much more accessible to youth.

Prior to the ban in July 2012, both products were available at convenience stores, head shops and online. Legal loopholes prevented the F.D.A. and D.E.A. from regulating the drugs.

The F.D.A. has authority to regulate products meant only for human consumption.

This is why synthetic drugs are marketed as common household items such as bath salts and incense.

Unfortunately, new products that meet the demand for a cheap and “legal” high are stocked on store shelves faster than law enforcement can remove them.

Parental knowledge and vigilance can help keep these products away from teens.

Jessica Miller is a Prevention Specialist with Bluegrass Prevention. She is studying for the state Bar Exam and is interested in subjects such as substance abuse, education equality and community development. Contact her at  jlmiller@bluegrass.org