Thursday, February 17, 2011
Bath Salts Drug Craze Hits U.S.
"A growing number of states are moving to ban a new synthetic drug known as "bath salts" that can cause severe side effects, including paranoia, hallucinations and sometimes violent behavior."
Welcome to the big scary world of bath salts--a new drug craze sweeping the nation. These so-called bath salts are actually synthetic drugs known as mephedrone and MDPV that are marketed as bath products, plant food and other inedible items to obscure their real purpose: getting people high.
While there have been reports of psychosis and other severe side effects in bath salt users, these stories are rare and usually involve a combination of irresponsible dosing and underlying mental illness.
Undoubtedly there is a newsworthy story here, but is it the one we're being told? While these mind-altering drugs can cause grave harm and even death, most of the tragedies surrounding bath salts are the result of factors other than the drug itself--all of which are totally avoidable.
Epic Fail #1--High-profile distribution. Bath salts are sold in public venues like gas stations and convenience stores across the country, where every 15-year-old and his kid brother can buy a pack for himself and his "homies". Common sense suggests that selling drugs to children--legal or otherwise--is a bad idea. Kids are prohibited from buying alcohol or tobacco products, so why are business owners stocking their shelves with amphetamine-like drugs and selling them to minors?
Epic Fail #2--Irresponsible labeling. Bath salt drugs are marketed in a most reckless manner by profit-driven manufacturers who forgo ingredients lists in lieu of cutesy names like "Vanilla Sky," "Ivory Wave," and "Trippin' Balls". Despite a total lack of regulation, all dietary supplements are required to display a list of ingredients on the label according to FDA guidelines. Even ephedra--the over-the-counter supplement that killed baseball player Steve Bechler in 2004--was held to this standard. How can bath salt users determine a safe dose or avoid dangerous interactions when they don't even know what they're taking? The result is an unnecessary game of Russian roulette that puts lives at risk with every snort, sniff and swallow.
Epic Fail #3--Lack of public knowledge about safer methods of drug use. The "Just Say No" approach is the intellectual equivalent of abstinence-only sex ed, which is a piss-poor model in terms of effectiveness. Many times, the things left unsaid by drug educators do the most harm by creating a vacuum of knowledge to be filled with speculation, myths and misconceptions. The idea that a drug is safe because it's legal is one example, but there are many others. And it's not just teenage zombies who are spreading disinformation--the media is leading the pack with inaccurate and patently untrue statements about the risks of bath salts. Early coverage was marred by confusion as reporters misidentified the drugs as actual bath and body products, which speaks volumes about the degree of ignorance surrounding the issue.
For those curious, here's a list of states that have already placed bath salts in Schedule I, making them illegal to possess or distribute. You've been warned:
*Huntington, West Virginia
Currently, at least three other states including Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky are working on legislation to ban bath salts.
Peace Out, Stay Salty--
Posted by Mary Microgram at 6:24 AM