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Insight from WFPD: Bath Salts in our community, use on rise past few months

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The two recent deaths in the Grand Forks area attributed to bath salts have sparked the question as to whether bath salts are being used locally. The answer is yes. Local law enforcement, to include West Fargo, has responded to a number of incidents in which a person is believed to have consumed bath salts or other synthetic drugs. For a better understanding of bath salts the following information is provided.

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Over the past several months, there has been a growing use of, and interest in, synthetic stimulants sold under the guise of "bath salts" or "plant food." Marketed under names such as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Vanilla Sky," or "Bliss," these products are comprised of a class of chemicals perceived as mimics of cocaine, LSD, MDMA, and/or methamphetamine. Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia, and violent episodes. The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe. These products have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, and are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. However, they have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption or for medical use, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process. Source: http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr102111.html 21 Oct 2011

"Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," Vanilla Sky," and "Bliss" -- all are among the many street names of a so-called designer drug known as "bath salts," which has sparked thousands of calls to poison centers across the U.S. over the last year.

Citing an "imminent threat to public safety," the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made illegal the possession and sale of three of the chemicals commonly used to make bath salts -- the synthetic stimulants mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone. The ban, issued in October 2011, is effective for at least a year. During that time, the agency will decide whether a permanent ban is warranted.

WebMD talked about bath salts and other designer drugs with Zane Horowitz, MD, an emergency room physician and medical director of the Oregon Poison Center.

"The presumption is that most bath salts are MDPV, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, although newer pyrovalerone derivatives are being made by illegal street chemists. Nobody really knows, because there is no way to test for these substances," Horowitz said..

"Is this what we put in our bathtubs, like Epsom salts? No. But by marketing them as bath salts and labeling them 'not for human consumption,' they have been able to avoid them being specifically enumerated as illegal," Horowitz said.

"Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain, suicidality. It's a very scary stimulant that is out there. We get high blood pressure and increased pulse, but there's something more, something different that's causing these other extreme effects. But right now, there's no test to pick up this drug. The only way we know if someone has taken them is if they tell you they have.

The clinical presentation is similar to mephedrone (a chemical found in other designer drugs), with agitation, psychosis, and stimulatory effects. Both of these agents should be of concern, as severe agitated behavior, like an amphetamine overdose, has occurred.

A second concern is the ongoing suicidality in these patients, even after the stimulatory effects of the drugs have worn off. At least for MDPV, there have been a few highly publicized suicides a few days after their use," Horowitz said.

"You can find them in mini-marts and smoke shops sold as Ivory Wave, Bolivian Bath, and other names. The people who make these things have skirted the laws that make these types of things illegal. While several states have banned the sale of bath salts, ultimately it will have to be a federal law that labels these as a schedule 1 drug, which means it has no medicinal value but a high potential for abuse, and declare them illegal

"We don't know if they are addictive. We have not had enough long-term experience with it. Acute toxicity is the main problem. But many stimulants do cause a craving. The people who take them are very creative. They snort it, shoot it, mix it with food and drink," Horowitz added.

"They are part of a long line of other pills and substances that we call designer drugs. And drug makers will keep creating new combinations at home and in illicit labs.It's almost impossible to keep up. And the motivation for buying them is always the same: Drugs like these are new and below the radar, unlike named illegal drugs." Source: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/bath-salts-drug-dangers 23 March 2012

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