Bath salts refer to a variety of designer drugs that are usually in the form of white powder, crystals, or granules. Although they are similar in appearance to actual epsom bath salts, the two are wildly different in terms of chemical composition. Bath salts are designed to mimic cathinone, a natural but addictive stimulant that closely resembles amphetamines. Cathinone is found in the khat plant.
This designer drug is extremely potent and also very cheap. Cocaine or users often switch to bath salts when they are looking for a stronger high. Bath salts also go under names like Flakka, Ivory Wave, and Vanilla Sky.
Effects of Bath Salts
Like other stimulants, bath salts lead to euphoria, loss of appetite, and a rapid heartbeat. Bath salts users also report various effects such as dizziness, confusion, and psychosis. In fact, bath salts gained public attention after the story of a user who tried to eat another person’s face off came out in the news. In large doses, bath salts are also linked to hallucinations, seizures and violent. They have gained such a notorious reputation that many law enforcement officials initially attribute certain cases of cannibalism to this drug.
Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science are currently attempting to develop a vaccine for bath salts. They recently presented the results of their experiments on rats, and all signs seem to point that they are on the right direction. The vaccine is intended to block the effects of two types of synthetic cathinones that are typically used in bath salt production – methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (alpha-PVP).
By targeting two types of synthetic cathinone, the researchers believe that the vaccine may be able to offer a wider and more sustained protection against newer iterations of this designer drug since manufacturers are known for constantly altering the formulas to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies and drug screenings. The team theorizes that the vaccine can offer protection that will last from 6 months to one year, enabling users to have a more successful recovery process.
According to the lead author of the study, once the vaccine is administered, it will bring about an immune response that prompts the body to produce antibodies against the drug. In cases of drug overdose or constant abuse, these antibodies will bind the drug in the bloodstream and restrict further distribution into vital organs. In effect, the vaccine will reduce both the adverse and rewarding effects of the drug.
This dual effect is potentially very useful for those people who are undergoing rehabilitation or trying to kick their drug habit for good. Since the drug does not produce any positive effects on the user anymore, it may be theoretically easier for them to stop using.