The Top Psychoactive Drug Story of 2012: Bath Salts

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Every year odd drugs get their fair share of ink, but none in 2012 received more attention than the deceptively named drugs called “Bath Salts”. Articles about these drugs and their effects (or alleged effects, i.e. zombie cannibalism) were all over the place, so in this one we’re going to get right to the point. Bath salts are dangerous for chiefly two reasons, and neither have anything to do with addiction or hallucinations.

The first reason is dosage, and the second is sleep deprivation.

Before addressing each of those in more detail, let’s quickly go over what bath salts are and are not, and how they affect the brain.

First, the name “bath salts” doesn’t refer to any single drug, but rather a group of substances with similar chemical properties. Most varieties contain either mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Both drugs are related to khat, an organic stimulant found in the Middle East and East African countries. Khat is illegal in the US because it contains cathinone, a Schedule 1 controlled substance according to the DEA.

Neither of these drugs are new; mephedrone has been bouncing around laboratories since the 1920s, MDPV since the late 1960s. Recreational use of the drugs is relatively new, dating back just a decade or so. Mephedrone is a stimulant and MDPV is both a stimulant and psychoactive drug. The qualifier “psychoactive” means that the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes changes in neurochemical function, resulting in amplifying effects on mood, thought, perception and behavior.

by David DiSalvo, Psychology Today

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