In recent weeks the news has been awash with horrific stories involving bath salts. This punctuates a significant trend in the last few years of the increased use and addiction to synthetic drugs. Bath salts is the street name for a group of drugs that contains either mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV). This substance has both stimulant and hallucinogenic qualities. While 38 states have outlawed its sale, legislation is still playing catch up in the rest of the country. Because of its difficulty to detect in most drug tests, those who require drug testing for employment or probation have begun to use this and other substances like “spice” or “K2″, which are synthetic forms of marijuana, as a way of avoiding detection.
Because of the recent emergence of these synthetic drugs, there is still very little known about the prolonged effects experienced by those addicted to these substances. What is known currently is that this drug inhibits the reuptake of dopamine. This means that more dopamine is available to bind at receptor sites in the areas of the brain responsible for pleasure. This effect is highly addictive. Over time, tolerance is acheived and a higher dose of the drug becomes necessary to acheive the desired effect. This makes overdose a very likely outcome with prolonged use. Because bath salts are often combined with other drugs from batch to batch, the risk of overdose or other medical complications is greatly increased. Another significant side effect of bath salts is hyperthermia, or elevation of body temperature. This is why so many of the stories in the media addressing bath salts addiction describe users wearing little or nothing at all at the time they are under its influence. The body creates too much heat to cool itself effectively. The physical stress to internal organs and the central nervous system can be deadly.