What’s up with the bath salts thing? An explanation of sorts.


Source: Shutterstock

There has been a recent flurry of press coverage related to the use and abuse of “bath salts.” This post is a summary of information coming to the PIC Library staff from various channels.

One thing to understand, is that these are not the Epsom salts or cosmetic bath salts that we normally think of (so please kids, don’t go getting any funny ideas). These products are said to contain either mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) or MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) or both.

They are synthetic stimulants with reported hallucinogenic properties (“designer drugs”) packaged  and marketed as bath salts to avoid attention and FDA regulation.  Products are sold in little packets online and convenience retail stores with names such as Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, Ocean, Charge Plus, White Lightning, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Red Dove and White Dove (reference).

In fact in a recent statement by Jay Ansell, Vice President, Cosmetics Program, Personal Care Products Council, the difference has been described in an effort to protect the reputation of “real bath salts”:

“Two designer drugs, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), are being sold over the Internet as “research chemicals,” “plant food” or “bath salts.”… These fake products have nothing to do with real bath salts made by reputable health, cosmetic and personal care products companies…Designer drugs like these are created specifically to get around existing drug laws, as in the case of the cannabis substitute Spice, sold as an exotic incense blend…”

Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant with a long history, that was banned across Europe in December 2010 and has gained recent attention from several US local, state, and federal agencies. Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)  has been around for a shorter time.  Both substances are said to be structurally related to cathinone, an active alkaloid found in the khat plant.

According to an email forward we received originating from Barbara Ryan, of the SilverGate Group:

  • MDPV and mephedrone are both stimulants with action similar to amphetamines.  Thus they appear to carry risk of addiction and complications from stimulant use including heart rate and blood pressure increases. The drugs appear to be most commonly snorted, but may also be smoked or even injected.
  • As of now, these two drugs are not controlled by the DEA.  Thus, as long as they are not sold for human consumption, they are legal to buy and possess in states where bans have not been put in place (including Colroado).
  • The ONDCP has issued a statement about these drugs, and it appears that the DEA is studying them as well.
  • There are no research studies on the effects of these drugs on humans, and thus their true risks are unknown. Also, there are no reliable estimates available about prevalence of their use, either on or off college campuses. While use is probably very low right now, the current media attention being given to this class of drug may spark interest.
  • The public should be educated that these are potent drugs and their legal status in no way implies that they are safe.
  • There are numerous accounts of hospitalizations from these drugs.
  • Also, it’s important that everyone understand that snorting actual bath salts is not what is happening. Misunderstanding this may lead to some rather ugly poisoning cases as misinformed young people attempt to get high with the wrong type of product.  Again, it does not appear that these drugs were ever truly manufactured as a bath salt. They are sold by the gram in smoke shops, not by the pound in bath and body stores.

Colorado statewide medication disposal day: 9/25/10

Source: email distribution list, 8/4/2010

From Beverly Gmerek, Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator:

We are pleased to announce that the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention program, Rx Drugs Not Yours Not Safe, a program of Peer Assistance Services, Inc. is partnering with the Colorado Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in hosting a statewide medication disposal day on September 25, 2010. This is part of DEA’s National Pharmaceutical Take-Back Day occurring in communities across the country.

  • This is an opportunity to make a difference in your community and safely dispose of old medications in an environmentally-friendly way.
  • The DEA will be working with local law enforcement officials to collect and dispose of the medications
  • The DEA will cover all the expenses related to the proper disposal and destruction.
  • In 2008, 562 Coloradans died from abuse of prescription drugs, three times more than those who died in drunken driving-related crashes (173) the same year.
  • 20% to 30% of high school students report using prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them; the mostly obtained from friends and family medicine cabinets.

DEA has invited all Colorado sheriff departments, police departments and drug task forces to participate.  The deadline for registering to participate is August 11, 2010. Please contact your local law enforcement agency and let them know how important it is that they participate and your ability to be of assistance.

What an ideal time to educate your community about the dangers of abusing medications and how to properly safeguard them.

Here is how we can help you:

  • The RxDrugsNotYoursNotSafe.org site will have downloadable posters and fact sheets soon.
  • Locations of all the disposal sites will be listed on the site as they become available.
  • Please join our NEW Face book page Rx Drugs Not Yours Not Safe for the most up to date information about this event.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention program is a State Priority Initiative funded by the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

And thank you for making a difference!

Beverly Gmerek
Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator

Other resources:

Happy Father’s Day : tips and links for Dads and the people who work with them


Resources for Loan at PIC (follow links to place holds)

More Links and Resources:

Free Research Forum on Adolescents and Co-Occuring Disorders, 7/15

The next free Division of Behavioral Health Research Forum will be held Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 8:30 am  – 12:00 pm on “Colorado’s Guidelines for Treatment of Adolescent Co-Occuring Disorders; Implementation Process”.  Please see the attached brochure for more details including registration information.

Click here to see the DBH Research Forum Brochure.

Future of Prevention Funding Lies in Broad, Public-Health Approach

Source: JoinTogether News Feature, 5/14/2010

Fueled in part by national healthcare reform, a quiet revolution is taking place in how the federal government conceives of prevention and funds preventive services, and the upshot could mean more money for programs that take a public-health approach to addiction and mental health problems and less for standalone programs that focus solely on alcohol and other drugs.

The healthcare reform bill passed by Congress includes a plan to spend $15 billion on disease prevention, and while many advocacy groups want that money to be spent on disease-specific interventions targeting problems like smoking and diabetes, others have called for using the money on broader community health initiatives.


The report, Prevention of Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People, concluded that prevention of addiction and mental illness has been proven to be scientifically feasible, but said that only public-health approaches are demonstrably effective.

The report identified five proven approaches to prevention <<snip>> “The key to most of these approaches is to identify risks—biological, psychological, and social factors—that may increase a child’s risk of MEB disorders,” the report noted. “Some of these risks reside in specific characteristics of the individual or family environment (such as parental mental illness or substance abuse or serious family disruptions), but they also include social stresses such as poverty, violence, lack of safe schools, and lack of access to health care.”

Read the rest of the JoinTogether News Feature here.

For information regarding ongoing efforts related to unified prevention efforts in the state of Colorado, please see the Interagency Prevention Systems Project website.

Colorado DBH Prevention Health Communications, In the News for April 9, 2010

Source: DBH email, 4/9/2010

Attached is the April 9, 2010 edition of the DBH Prevention Community Programs, Prevention Health Communications, In the News and Resources weekly.

In the News is a collection of hyperlinks to current prevention articles, broadcasts, reports, press releases, funding announcements, conferences and events, training and more that are relevant to the prevention and reduction of the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Click here to access Prevention Health Communications, In the News and Resources weekly, 4/9/10 (pdf)

March 2nd SAMHSA National Methamphetamine Webinar on LGBT Log-in Information

Source: SAMHSA email 2/25/10

LGBT Populations and Meth: Updates for Addressing Challenges and Maximizing Opportunities

Date and Time: 3/2/2010 – 12:00pm to 1:30 pm (Mountain)
The LGBT Populations and Methamphetamine Webinar will include updates on research, treatment, and efforts on state and territory levels to address challenges and identify opportunities for work with LGBT populations around methamphetamine and substance abuse. Highlights will include an overview of data and research issues; results of a national survey regarding availability and accessibility of LGBT substance abuse services; research summary regarding substance abuse trends among gay men and non-gay identified men who have sex with men; information about Getting Off: A Behavioral Treatment Intervention For Gay and. Bisexual Male Methamphetamine Users; unique issues surrounding substance abuse and transgender individuals including barriers for services and research and recommendations; an overview of substance abuse and lesbian and bisexual women including barriers and recommendations; and an examination of psycho-cultural conditions for LGBT individuals and substance abuse.

Webinar Details

This webinar will provide both an online presentation and telephone audio.  We recommend that you log on to the webinar at least 5 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.  Please note that to participate in the web presentation you may be prompted to download software.  To ensure full access to both the web presentation and telephone audio, please follow the directions below:

To Join The Web Presentation

1. Go to https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join/

2. Enter Log-in Information (below)
3. Click “Start Now”.
4. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Meeting #: PW1746984
Passcode: 7892434

Audio Dial-in Information

Dial-in: 800-369-3338
Passcode: 7892434#