What exactly are bath salts?

Posted Sept. 26, 2011, at 7 p.m.

Bath salts, a synthetic drug that became illegal in Maine over the summer, has posed a problem for law enforcement agencies throughout the state, particularly in the Bangor area. Below is a brief summary of what bath salts are and what happens when people are on them.

What are bath salts? Bath salts are designer drugs that typically contain mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV. The drugs’ appearance is similar to that of cocaine. Bath salts are considered dangerous and mimic the effects of methamphetamines.

Why are they called bath salts? They are packaged as “soothing bath salts” to get around federal laws. They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because they are not marketed for human consumption and in fact are often marketed as plant fertilizer. Components of the drugs are marketed under names such as Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky and White Rush and are sold over the counter in the states that have not banned them. Maine stores were allowed to sell them until July.

What do people experience when they take bath salts? Police, doctors and emergency responders have observed signs of paranoia, hallucinations, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users of the drug.

Are bath salts addictive? Users mostly snort the drug, but it also can be smoked, eaten or injected and just like the methamphetamines they are designed to mimic, bath salts produce cravings that are very strong, Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia said.

“They start to use those for the same reason they use any drug: They want to get a high,” he said recently of those who consume the drug. They continue to use it because it’s cheap and “it has very addictive qualities.”

Where is the bath salts trend growing? “It’s everywhere,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Monday.

Law enforcement and hospital officials from all over the state are reporting that it has arrived in their communities.

SOURCE: Maine Office of Substance Abuse, Bangor Daily News stories.

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