Adolescent Substance Abuse: "Bath Salts" an Emerging Risk

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_NDIC-bath-salts-reportMany of you have undoubtedly seen news about synthetic drugs that are marketed -- legally, in many places around the country -- as "bath salts" or "plant food." These "synthetic cathinones" are stimulants that usually come in powder or crystal form, and can be smoked, injected, or snorted.  Emergency rooms and poison control centers have seen enough serious negative health effects that legislatures in a number of states have attempted to ban these drugs, and the constituent ingredients.  
Use varies by locale. In Maine, police and hospitals have reported "a surge of people becoming delusional and violent after injecting, snorting or smoking so-called bath salts."
The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) recently issued a situation report on bath salts (non-prescription synthetic cathinones), calling them an "emerging domestic threat." Users include teens.
Note to Juvenile Courts (and Juvenile Drug Courts in Particular):
Teens and others find bath salts attractive because:

  • They are often sold legally in gas stations, head shops, skateboard shops, and on the internet; and
  • Most routine drug screens will not detect the use of bath salts. (Though specialized drug screens will.)

The good news is, the Drug Enforcement Administration is considering scheduling them as a controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The bad news? The NDIC expects that abuse will grow over time, and that manufacturers will adjust the chemical make-up of their products when needed to keep them legal.
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Updated: February 08 2018