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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bath Salts: Just The Latest Designer Drug

The public, medical experts, addiction treatment professionals, news agencies, law enforcement agencies and legislators are all concerned about "Bath Salts", the latest designer drug. The operative word here is latest. The truth is designer drugs are not new or news; they are substances that are created to avoid existing drug laws. The term "designer drugs" was first coined by law enforcement in the 1980's. But how long have designer drugs been part of our culture? You might be surprised by a Wikipedia article that states:

"...the first appearance of what would now be termed designer drugs occurred well before this [1980], in the 1920s. Following the passage of the second International Opium Convention in 1925, which specifically banned morphine, the diacetyl ester of morphine, heroin, and a number of alternative esters of morphine quickly started to be manufactured and sold. The most notable of these were dibenzoylmorphine and acetylpropionylmorphine, which have virtually identical effects to heroin but were not covered by the Opium Convention. This then led the Health Committee of the League of Nations to pass several resolutions attempting to bring these new drugs under control, ultimately leading in 1930 to the first broad analogues provisions extending legal control to all esters of morphine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone. Another early example of what could loosely be termed designer drug use, was during the Prohibition era in the 1930s, when diethyl ether was sold and used as an alternative to illegal alcoholic beverages in a number of countries."

It is probably pretty safe to assume that few of our readers were alive in the 1920s or even the 1930s, but what about the 1970s? Do you remember "poppers"? Yes, "poppers" is a designer drug name for such chemical compounds as amyl nitrite and it has been sold with labels that include names like Rush, Locker Room, Snappers and Liquid Gold. So now it is 2012 and the latest designer drug Bath Salts can be purchased at convenience stores, gas stations, head shops with enticing labels such as Bloom, Cotton Cloud, Gold Rush, Ivory Fresh, White Knight and Zoom, just to name a few.

Experts like Dr. Oz call bath salts "highly hallucinogenic, potentially lethal"...and in some places throughout the United States still legal.  Most of us have seen the gory headlines stemming from cannibalistic attacks acted out by people considered to be under the influence of bath salts. So now what do we do about this latest designer drug that is impacting people's own lives and others? As we scramble to pen new laws, amend statutes, the first line of defense is to stay informed. Ask questions?  Don't assume that when your teenager says they are going to take a bath that it won't include "bath salts!"

This week NBC San Diego ran this story: "Do Bath Salts Cause 'Zombie' Behavior?" You can watch the report here. 

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