The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Bath salts drug gets negative ratings from all sides

By Jim birmingham/reporter

Kyle isn’t normally a violent person, but after using bath salts he bought in a head shop, he felt if someone rubbed him the wrong way, things could get ugly.

“I don’t fight much, but I felt like I could have fought someone,” he said.

Bath salts, a synthetic drug that causes a cocaine-like high accompanied by hallucinations is legally sold in stores across the United States. Doctors are alarmed because the side effects of the drug are incredibly harmful to the user and potentially lethal.

Commonly sold as “bath salts” in pipe shops, this is a new synthetic drug among the likes of the popular K2 or Spice, which sold under the guise of “incense” until the Drug Enforcement Administration banned K2.

The DEA calls the drug methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and says its chemical structure is similar to Schedule 1 hallucinogenic substances and stimulants.

Because of these similarities, the DEA placed an emergency ban on the drug in September, which makes it illegal to sell or carry MDPV. The ban begins sometime this month and will last at least one year with the potential for a six-month extension. 

Argyle addiction specialist Cherye Callegan, who is a board-certified psychiatrist, said MDPV is not Food and Drug Administration-approved, which is reason alone not to take it.

“The likelihood you get that stuff [MDPV] with something that is cut with something really bad for you is high — you don’t know what you’re taking, and none of it is approved for human

consumption,” she said. “At least with FDA-approved drugs, you know there is research that is done whereas this stuff, after one use, you can do some damage. The problem is that it is mixed with so many other things.”

Callegan has two clients in treatment after they used the drug.

“It’s a very powerful stimulant,” she said. “They’re still in treatment for it after three weeks of having taken it. It also raises your blood pressure and can cause a heart attack in certain people at risk.”

Doctors are using anti-psychotic medication to counter the effects of the drug on its users as they experience extreme paranoia, Callegan said.

“You can smoke it. You can take it orally. The drug addicts take it because it’s similar to cocaine and meth, but it has more hallucinatory effects. It’s also very addicting,” she said.

Kyle, who wanted only his first name used, explained the drug as feeling very pleasant at its onset, accompanied by a meth-like speedy feel.

“You’d be sitting there, and it’s more euphoric at first, then you’d get depressed, and then the euphoria would come back. It was just like a cycle the whole time. It seemed like it was never going to end.”

Kyle also experienced cravings while on the drug, not only for more MDPV, he said, but for other things as well.

“If I had a carton of cigarettes in front of me, I could have smoked the entire thing. I craved everything, I would have done everything. I hated it. It’s like, ‘Why am I craving this?’” he said.

Kyle also witnessed his friends experimenting with MDPV. One of them looked incredibly paranoid and paced up and down the room constantly. Another of Kyle’s friends, who had experience with similar stimulant drugs, also disliked MDPV.

“I’ve got experience with a lot of drugs, so coming from my perspective I don’t think the drug should be in stores. If I had the option to do bath salt or meth, I’d rather do meth,” he said. “Bath salt is like the lowest-grade, cheapest meth you can get. It’s really bad. It’s like ecstasy and cocaine mixed together, but not a good form of it.”

An employee of The Gas Pipe in Arlington, who wouldn’t give her name, said that MDPV had sold just as well as other popular synthetic drugs like Spice, which is sold as incense but is smoked to create a high similar to marijuana.

Kyle said he was done with MDPV after his first experience with it, but others aren’t so fortunate.

“It fits a similar drug profile as cocaine,” Callegan said. “But you hallucinate like crazy on it.”

The potential to become addicted to the drug is real, Callegan said, because it creates an intense high that comes on quick, but then tapers away quickly as well, making the user want to do more.

MDPV may be on the way to getting banned but a popular way to circumvent the law is to change one molecule of the compound and re-release the drug as something new.

“They’ve done that, like, five times with K2, where they changed the molecule,” she said.




Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian