Maine has joined several states and European countries in banning a group of powerful synthetic drugs that are unregulated and potentially harmful. Maine’s new law makes it illegal to possess or sell any of the 21 different hallucinogenic drugs or stimulants that are sold and marketed as “bath salts.”
In Bangor on Monday, a coalition of public health and public safety groups announced a new educational campaign to warn residents about the dangers of bath salts .
“I would hope we have seen the peak of this problem but I’m afraid we haven’t,” said Jamie Comstock of the Bangor Health and Community Services Department. Comstock said the impetus for the campaign grew out of the rapid increase in the incidence of violence and medical emergencies related to the use of bath salts in the area.
These are not the bath salts that dissolve in the tub to soften or perfume bathwater. These bath salts have properties similar to ecstasy, PCP and cocaine. They can be snorted, smoked or swallowed and usually contain mephedrone, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) or fluoromethcathinone. They are sold as “bath salts” on the Internet and in some convenience stores and smoke shops with names like Purple Rain, White Rush and Vanilla Sky.
“Bath salts are very dangerous substances which are deliberately labeled and marketed to get around drug regulation and avoid prosecution,” said Guy Cousins, director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse. “It is important to get the facts about these substances. The Office of Substance Abuse is working collaboratively with the Department of Education and the Department of Public Safety to inform the citizens of Maine of the dangers of bath salts.” These potent chemicals have had significant physical and psychological effects on people who have used them. Because bath salts create an elevated level of agitation and aggression, people who use them also become a safety risk to others.
Bath salts can produce short-term side effects such as increased heart rate, agitation, anxiety and delusions. More serious side effects such as severe paranoia, aggression, hallucinations and seizures have also been reported. Bath salts can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure which may lead to a heart attack or stroke, and they also increase body temperature and can cause muscle breakdown leading to kidney damage.
Signs someone may be using bath salts include sweating and thirst, jerky body movements and grinding of teeth. The user may be catatonic and suddenly get violent with little or no warning. Bath salts can cause severe agitation lasting up to five days. The agitation may wax and wane over that period of time. The euphoria and stimulation often lasts for hours but the psychosis can last for hours to days or even longer.