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Latest expert summary explains dangers of bath salts

August 13, 2012
by Shannon Brys
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The UB Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) has released another in its series of expert summaries—fact sheets explaining the dangers of bath salts—what they are, how they work on the central nervous system and points for parents dealing with kids using them.

RIA director, Kenneth Leonard, PhD, said, “Our expert summariesare dedicated to educating our communities—academic, health care and health consumers—on the health consequences of specific addictive substances and/or behaviors. This is our fourth summary and it coincides with the governor’s address, hopefully creating the maximum public education impact.”

Leonard stressed that these summaries raise awareness about RIA’s focus on addiction and help parents stay abreast of what their children’s exposure to addictive substances may be.

According to the latest summary, bath salts often contain the compounds 3, 4-methylenedioxypryrovalerone (MDPV) and/or mephedrone. They appear as an odorless, powdery substance or a crystal, liquid or tablet.

Bath salts are central nervous stimulants and act like cocaine, methamphetamine or MDMA (“ecstasy”).

Leonard points out that bath salt abuse is an escalating public health problem with poison control centers in 2010 logging 304 calls about bath salts.

In 2011, these calls jumped to 6,138, he says. And with the development of commercial drug tests that can detect these illicit drugs, newer versions of these drugs are likely to be synthesized to avoid detection.

“It is of utmost importance that we educate the public to recognize the physical appearance bath salts and how they cause individuals to behave when ingested. One part of the equation is regulation; the other part is to arm citizens with the facts—which is part of RIA’s mission,” says Leonard.

He added, “Routine drug screens do not detect bath salts and the risk of overdose on these compounds is high, especially when taken orally.”

Bath Salts may be sold as White Lightning, Snow Leopard, Tranquility, Zoom, Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Vanilla Sky, and others.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced recent New York State Department of Health (DOH) regulations that crack down on bath salts on the University at Buffalo’s South Campus.  This means that local law enforcement officials will be able to pursue perpetrators under state laws for the first time and refer violators to local district attorneys for prosecution.

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