“These are not your everyday ‘soak in the tub’ brands of bath salts,” said Diane Machen, a Criminalist with the Sheriff’s Forensic Science Division. “These are highly concentrated substances packaged as bath salts that may contain mephedrone and the compound MDPV.”
Machen said these types of chemicals are intentionally marketed toward teenagers because pushers try to convince youth that they can get high without really doing anything wrong since the substances aren’t illegal.
“Parents and children need to remember that just because something is legal and easily available for purchase, doesn’t mean it can’t be extremely harmful,” she said.
“The reality is, using these chemicals may lead to serious consequences such as hallucinations and paranoia, creating a situation where the user may inflict serious harm to themselves and others.”
Fake bath salts are becoming a growing drug problem in several eastern states. Authorities in states such as Mississippi and Kentucky are already looking at banning their sale.
Only a few cases involving these substances have been received at the Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory. However, Sheriff authorities feel now is the time to make parents aware of existence of the potential problem since the target market is often our children.
“Based on what we are seeing in other parts of the country, ingesting these powders may have the same effect as abusing methamphetamine or cocaine. In some cases, causing paranoia and delusions that can lead to tragic acts of violence,” said Dr. Bill Anderson, Chief Toxicologist for the Forensic Science Division
“It’s not a good idea to take any substance to get high, but it’s really not a good idea to take those with MDPV,” Dr. Anderson said. “There is no quality control so there is no way to know the danger contained in an individual dose.”
What to Watch For
Fake bath salts are not typically found at the standard bath and body store but are available over the counter at convenience stores, head shops and over the internet.
The substance is usually sold in small containers with exotic names like Tranquility, Red Dove, Ivory Snow or Vanilla Sky.
Small amounts of the powder are extremely expensive to buy. For example, a 500 mg bottle sells for almost 30 dollars.
Machen encourages parents to stay ahead of the curve by educating themselves about the latest trends in substance abuse, particularly for substances that are not illegal. many of which were not even heard of a decade or so ago.
“For this type of product parents need to be proactive,” she said. “Many of these new ways to get high were not even heard of a decade or so ago. Our children are vulnerable if they don’t understand the long-term damage they can cause.”
“We can’t help them if we aren’t educated ourselves.”
Dr. Anderson agrees, encouraging parents to pay attention to news reports and research the internet for additional information about designer and synthetic drugs.
“Know what to look for and talk to your children,” he said. “Make sure they are cautious about what they’re consuming and where it’s coming from. All it takes is a slight modification to an illegal substance to turn it into something that can still get a person high without being against the law.”