Friday, June 22, 2012


Last year at this time I visited a 16-year-old boy in the hospital. He could not speak or walk or control any motor movements. He had been in a coma for three days and was then awake. Blood test results showed no known drugs or alcohol in his sytem. However, after interrogating his close friends, they admitted the boy had snorted bath salts at a party the night he collapsed. The words and the labeling are innocuous enough. Bath salts are meant to be a soothing additive to warm, soaking tub water in an attempt to relax us and lower our blood pressure. But these are not the common relaxing agents of our parents' generation. Today's product being sold in small shops and corner markets, can be purchased legally since they are labelled - 'not for human consumption'. Ingredients in bath salts include three toxic chemicals that were banned by the DEA last year. They are MDPV, methylone and mephedrone. They cause paranoia, psychosis, agitation, a stimulant-like effect and hallucinations. They also have been associated with delayed suicidality. The question becomes, why do young people abuse something with such potentially fatal consequences? The answer is complicated. Some do not have skills to deal with real life. Some blindly follow others. Some want to change the uncontrollable feelings within themselves that prevent their personal happiness. It is time for us to stand up and support an across the board removal of Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, Bliss and other bath salt products from all stores. It is too late for the 16-year-old I visited. But it is not too late for others like him.