Testing for Synthetics - Bath Salts
Bath salts is the informal "street name" for a family of designer drugs often containing Substituted Cathinones, which have effects similar to amphetamine and cocaine.
The white crystals resemble legal bathing products like epsom salts, and are called Bath Salts with the packaging often stating "not for human consumption" in an attempt to avoid the prohibition of drugs, but chemically have nothing to do with actual bath salts
In 2009 and 2010 there was a significant rise in the abuse of synthetic cathinones, initially in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, and subsequently in the US and Canada. Drugs marketed as "bath salts" first came to the attention of authorities in the US in 2010 after reports were made to US poison centres.
Very little is known about how "bath salts" interact with the brain and how they are metabolised by the body. They are similar to amphetamines in that they cause stimulant effects by increasing the concentration of monoamines such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in synapses.
Bath salts can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. Swallowing and snorting are the most common routes of administration. Bath salts are active at doses of between 3 mg and 5 mg, with the average dose being between 5 mg and 20 mg.
The risk of overdose is high, however, since the packets often contain 500 mg and suggest users use 50 mg.
Users of bath salts have reported experiencing symptoms including headache, heart palpitations, nausea, and cold fingers. Hallucinations, agitation, and paranoia have also been reported, and news media have reported associations with violent behavior, heart palpitations and an increased tolerance for pain.
Visual symptoms similar to those of stimulant overdoses include dilated pupils, involuntary muscle movement, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure.
Bath Salts cannot be detected using the onsite drug detection test kits currently available in Australia. As with all drugs, the detection of the metabolites, rather than the parent compound is critical. Currently the only reliable way to detect Synthetic Cathinones is using Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry.
Synthetic Cathinones are easily available in Australia, are being used by individuals and it is certain that people under the influence of Bath Salts are a hazard to themselves and their fellow workmates.
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