Health | Law Enforcement | Medicine | Science

DEA Bans Essential Chemicals In Bath Salts

Bath_salts_003The DEA is cracking down on bath salts!

Do you know about bath salts? They don't go in your bath. These semi-legal drugs, sold in head shops under names like "Vanilla Sky" and "Bliss," are usually snorted or ingested intravenously, and contain mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which are apparently real mind-benders. Bath salts first popped up in the media earlier this year, attached to all kinds of horror stories. In the New York Times this summer, we learned:

Poison control centers around the country received 3,470 calls about bath salts from January through June, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, up from 303 in all of 2010.

“Some of these folks aren’t right for a long time,” said Karen E. Simone, director of the Northern New England Poison Center. “If you gave me a list of drugs that I wouldn’t want to touch, this would be at the top.”

... Some of the recent incidents [involving bath salt abuse] include a man in Indiana who climbed a roadside flagpole and jumped into traffic, a man in Pennsylvania who broke into a monastery and stabbed a priest, and a woman in West Virginia who scratched herself “to pieces” over several days because she thought there was something under her skin.

Does that sound at all familiar? Like those bogus stories from the 60's about nice suburban girls trying acid for the first time and staring at the sun until their eyes melted? Or the Reefer Madness-era stories about weed turning suburban boys into rape-crazy cavemen? 

Still. Just 'cuz drug opponents cried wolf once (twice, three times, whatever) doesn't mean they can't occasionally tell the truth. And those bath salt stories appeared in the Times! It's the paper of record!

And now, according to the Times:

The Drug Enforcement Administration took emergency action on Friday to ban three synthetic stimulants used to make products that are marketed at head shops and on the Web as “bath salts,” but are actually used as recreational drugs that mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine.

The emergency measure places these substances — mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone — under the D.E.A.’s most restrictive category for at least a year, while they study whether they should be permanently banned. This classification is reserved for substances with high potential for abuse and no accepted use under medical supervision.

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  1. The law of unintended consequences can't be revoked. There's a lot of magical thinking about how laws actually work. Now, there are plenty of horror stories about people on Ambien (an equally useless drug), but you don't hear calls to ban it. The issue here is the fear that the drug engenders, not its true practical effects on society. Living your life in fear is a waste of time.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 22, 2011 6:45:22 PM

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  3. What a bunch of miserable whining nellies! It was a light-hearted article about how these groups are constantly scapegoating some new "natural" high. There's tons of this type of stuff in shops across the country, and not just "bath salts." He was just having a little fun, while also pointing out a potential problem, and if you don't like the tone, move on... histrionic rants on a Saturday night is just bad taste.

    Posted by: denizon | Oct 22, 2011 9:33:05 PM

  4. Add my whiny voice to those criticizing the tone of this post. I'm impressed with the blogger's attempt to call 'reefer madness' on bath salts. I initially thought it failed miserably.

    Then I used some bath salts, and I am totally on board with the idea that the government is causing problem and not the chemicals themselves. In fact, the government is listening to my thoughts right now. The paranoia I'm experiencing is even more awesome than meth paranoia!
    Keep bath salts available to destroy my brain!!!

    Posted by: bravo | Oct 23, 2011 9:51:20 AM

  5. Although I don't think a War on Drugs is the right course of action to combat the problems associated with addiction/alcoholism, I am currently in a drug treatment program, and have seen the direct effects of bath salts on people who are in there with me. It is truly terrifying to hear some of the personal stories. Many of the stories I have heard involve violence to the user, others, or both..

    As for the legal aspect of it, I don't have a solution, but I think it would be unwise to brush off/downplay the dangers of bath salts simply because there are people who (foolishly) believe that banning all drugs are the solution to society's problems..

    Posted by: recovering addict | Oct 24, 2011 6:14:46 AM

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