Well, kids, I was right and I was wrong. While there is a long and creepy history of use and abuse of household products to get high (and I was pretty sure that my research would lead in this direction) I was both surprised and appalled to discover that the current bath salt craze is less driven by the impulse to see what happens when you huff the Duster Buster Computer Cleaner Aerosol and more like a sophisticated and entirely legal manufacture and distribution of...cocaine?
How about all of the above, and then some?
Now, let me be clear, when we are talking about Bath Salts in this context, we are not talking about products such as Epsom Salts or any number of perfectly safe products that people have been soaking in for years. These are essentially Designer Drugs, chemical compounds that are engineered to mimic popular drugs of abuse, but with enough of a difference to make them structurally different, and while just as addictive and probably more unpredictable, completely legal!
If a state legislature bans a particular substance, it's back to the lab to tweak the product a little, and then back in business with a similar substance with a different chemical signature.
To make matters even more interesting, these products are sold under a myriad of names, from thousands of retailers. They can be bought online, and in many gas stations and convenience stores.
And did I mention that they are undetectable in Urine and Hair Tests?
So obviously, we've got an issue here. A big one. As of this writing, I find a lot of hysteria and not much science. NIDA's Director Nora Vowlkow has issued a statement http://www.nida.nih.gov/about/welcome/MessageBathSalts211.html
Please share questions and comments. We've all got a lot to learn on this one.