During the last several years, bath salts have received widespread attention in the news. The use of synthetic drugs has resulted in medical emergencies and deaths among teens that use them.
Synthetic drugs can be particularly dangerous because they are produced and sold without any regulation or monitoring of ingredients. Users cannot be sure what is contained in the substance they purchase, and the effects can be widely varied.
The journal Neuropharmacology recently published findings from a study conducted at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that illustrates the potency of bath salts. The study focused on the attributes of a key component of bath salts called MDPV, which is a chemical that mimics an amphetamine.
Dangers Of Bath Salts
Led by Michael Baumann, Ph.D., of NIDA, the study found that MDPV is extremely potent, and when compared with cocaine, it is 10 times more powerful in resulting locomotor activation, hypertension and tachycardia.
The researchers also determined that the high level of dopamine transmission stimulation may help to explain the unusual behaviors exhibited by those who use high doses of bath salts. Individuals who use them may lack any desire for eating or drinking, experience a high level of physical energy and may not be able to fall asleep. In addition, the individual will experience a strong and unrelenting desire for more of the drug.
The study was initiated based on the increasing popularity of bath salts among teens and young adults. Often sold under catchy names such as Blue Silk or Purple Wave, the synthetic drug can result in serious problems. After the initial increase of bath salts use, NIDA released a message encouraging the avoidance of bath salts. NIDA urged that snorting or ingesting bath salts could result in higher blood pressure, an increased heart rate, paranoia, chest pains, and delusions.
Are Bath Salts More Addictive Than Meth?
In addition to concerns about the potency of the drug, substance abuse experts have also cautioned that bath salts appear to be highly addictive. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute illustrated the addictive nature of bath salts in a study that compared bath salts with methamphetamine in animal models.
The results of the study indicate that bath salts may be one of the most addictive known substances.
Principal investigator for the study, TSRI Associate Professor Michael A. Taffe, explained that the findings from the study show that rats will press a lever many more times to receive a dose of MPDV than they will to receive a dose of methamphetamine. This was true across various dose levels.
The findings, which appear in the journal Neuropharmacology, provide insight into the drug that was derived from the active ingredient in the khat leaf, a stimulant called cathinone. The drug was synthesized in pharmaceutical laboratories and then later revived by underground scientists. The sale of the synthetic drug has been banned, despite attempts to sell it labeled as plant food or bath salts.
Bath Salts Causing Neurotic And Unusual Behavior
In the study, the rats were able to self-dose when they pressed a lever, receiving an intravenous feed of the drug. The rats sought a continual feed of the drug whenever possible.
In one of the test sets, the rats were able to increase their dose only through the increasing pressing of the lever. The rats typically would press up to 60 times on the lever to receive a dose of methamphetamine, but they would press the lever up to 600 times to receive a dose of MDPV. The researchers reported that some rats would even press the lever 3,000 times to get a dose of MDPV.
In addition, the researchers observed unusual behaviors in the rats that were reminiscent of the compulsive skin-picking often seen among those who are addicted to meth. The rats were observed to be compulsively licking the plastic walls of their cages.
Talk With Your Teen About The Risks Of Bath Salt Use
Given the dangerous health effects and high level of addictiveness associated with the use of bath salts, parents should take the opportunity to talk with their teens about the risks of use.
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