“Bath Salts” – what is it, who started it?
Paola Martinez, 16.10.2012 22:00
"One choice, it only takes one choice. One time, in life, one bad mistake that can affect your whole future." (A former user)
“Bath Salts” is the common name of one of the most dangerous new designer drugs. Sold online, in smoke shops and gas stations, it is tough to control because as fast as federal, state and local governments outlaw a chemical formulation, it is slightly altered and back on the streets.
The problem is rampant and is now a lucrative trade run by criminal gangs and underground drug labs around the world. Where did it come from and Who started it?
Also known under a multitude of street names such as “Zoom," "Bloom," "Cloud Nine," "Vanilla Sky," “Purple Wave,” "Ivory Wave," "White Lightning," "Scarface," and “Purple Wave,” “Bath Salts” has the appearance of fine-grained, odorless powder, generally tan or brown in color but occasionally white. It is usually sold in wallet-size plastic packets or clear jars. The containers are usually marked “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” to evade the law.
It is a man made drug chemically similar to cathinone, naturally found in the plant Catha edulis, commonly known in Africa as Khat. The plant has a long history of abuse in east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Each of the synthetic forms of cathinone which are currently found in “Bath Salts” were originally developed by pharmaceutical companies or psychiatrists, who then published or otherwise allowed their formulas to become public knowledge, and they were then picked up by underground labs for use on the streets.
One form is MDPV, first developed by the giant German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim which filed a patent application for the substance in 1969 but never marketed it.
Another is mephedrone, first synthesized by French pharmacologist Saem de Burnaga Sanchez who published his formula in 1929 in the French Bulletin of the Chemical Society. In 2003 an underground chemist in Europe using the name “Kinetic” published the chemical formula on the Internet.
Drug culture chemist and psychiatrist Alexander Shulgin, who formerly developed insecticides for Dow Chemical, patented another form called methylone in 1996 as a psychiatric drug, but it was never approved for that use. Shulgin has been responsible for the discovery and publication of hundreds of designer drug formulations including ecstacy and STP. He has made his books and the synthesis formulas available online and for sale on Amazon.com.
Still another form of cathinone is methcathinone, which is related to cathinone and the stimulate methamphetamine. Methcathinone was first synthesized in Germany in 1928 and patented by Merck pharmaceutical company in 1929. It was used in the Soviet Union as an anti-depressant during the 1930s and 1940s. By the 1970s and 1980s it became a major drug of abuse in Russia, called "Jeff" on the streets.
Methcathinone was patented in the United States in 1957 by Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals of Detroit, Michigan as a stimulant and appetite suppressant, but was rejected for production due to negative side effects. Parke Davis soon abandoned its methcathinone research, after determining that there were unacceptable safety risks and substantial side effects.
In 1989 a University of Michigan student who was interning at Parke-Davis discovered and stole samples of the drug and documentation of the manufacturing process. In 1990, associates of that student began manufacturing and selling the drug in clandestine laboratories in northern Michigan. Its use became popular in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1990 and 1991, and quickly spread statewide. In January 1991, the Michigan State Police first learned of methacathinone being sold in the city of Marquette.
By 1992, methcathinone was being sold around the United States.
While all of these drugs have now been federally regulated as Schedule 1 drugs – dangerous and not to be sold – they are still easily available.
While there are multiple small variations of the chemical structure of the drug – the effects are all the same and they can be devastating. Within minutes of using the drug, a person's heart rate will spike and he or she may seem agitated, delusional or suicidal. Like hallucinogens, the drug may result in serious mental confusion and extreme paranoia. Some users report unusual feeling of physical strength, an impulse to tear off clothes and skin, and violent impulses and actions. Almost all of the recently reported drug induced “cannibal reactions” are caused by Bath Salts. Physical tolerance increases the more the drug is used; use causes craving and becomes compulsive; ceasing use of the drug causes withdrawal symptoms including tremors, chills, sweating, agitation and sleep problems.
Education is the answer!
For information on the origins of these drugs and and their effects, the Foundation for a Drug Free World sponsors a massive campaign to truly education people of all ages, but particular the young, of the dangers of drugs of abuse.
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free. For more information go to www.drugfreeworld.org
And for the person with a drug problem, there are real solutions to addiction. Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program that utilizes the methods of L. Ron Hubbard, has a success rate of more than 75% (www.narconon.org)