A Night to Forget…
You’re chilling out at a party when your friend Raymond comes over and hands you a brightly colored packet full of white powder.
“Try this, man,” Raymond says. “It’s awesome. It’s legal and it’ll get you really messed up.”
You look at the packet. The label says “bath salts” – but you know what it really is. It’s fake coke, and everyone at school has been talking about it.
“C’mon, try it,” Raymond says. “I’m telling you, it’s totally safe.”
You look down at the packet. Raymond is watching you, and a crowd of kids has gathered around you. They’re all watching, waiting.
You open the bag, take a deep breath and then snort fake coke for the first time.
At first, nothing happens… and then everything starts to look wrong. Your mind is racing, and you can feel beads of sweat forming on your forehead. You look around the room, and you feel like everybody’s watching you. They’re laughing at you. They’re talking about you. You just know it.
That’s when you freak out. You start screaming and flailing your arms around, swinging at anyone who gets in your way. You won’t let anyone near you and nobody can calm you down. Someone eventually gets scared enough to call 9-1-1.
When you get to the hospital, you’re confused and disoriented and you can’t tell the doctors what’s wrong. When your mom gets there, you don’t even know who she is.
It takes you a few hours to come down, and when you do, the doctor tells you that you’re very fortunate. He’s seen kids come to the ER after snorting bath salts before and they don’t all snap out of it. You’ll be able to go home in a few hours, but not everyone is that lucky. Some kids end up in psych wards after using fake coke; others do permanent damage to their health.
You’ve probably seen fake coke before – they sell it at gas stations and corner stores and you can buy it online. Sometimes, it’s sold in packages labeled “bath salts” or “plant food” and even says “Not for human consumption”. Fake cocaine – also known as Cloud 9, Ocean, Hurricane Charlie, Scarface, Ivory Wave, White Lightning, Red Dove and White Dove – is a nasty, toxic mix of chemicals.
The main chemicals in fake coke are mephedrone, 3-4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone. They are strong stimulants that have similar effects to cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA and/or LSD.
But what else is in bath salts?
Synthetic stimulants, that are chemicals, which are manufactured derivatives of cathinone. Cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant, is an active chemical found naturally in the khat plant.
But it’s Legal… That Means it’s Safe, Right?
A lot of people think that because fake coke is sold in stores and online, it has to be safe. But those people are wrong. Fake coke isn’t safe – and it may not be legal for much longer. Several countries have passed laws outlawing fake coke, and the majority of U.S. states have already banned it by adding fake coke to the state’s Controlled Dangerous Substance Act. United States DEA recently exercised its emergency scheduling authority to control the 3 synthetic stimulants that are in bath salts or designer cathinones (synthetic stimulants). These stimulants are used to create bath salts.
Why? Well, because fake cocaine is dangerous. It’s unregulated, and it contains chemicals that mess with your brain and body. Nobody is quite sure what using bath salts does to you in the long-term, but it’s suspected to be linked to several injuries, deaths and suicides worldwide.
A Future Down the Drain
Everyone knew that Carson was going to be a pro skater one day: He’d gotten his first skateboard when he was in junior high, and before long he was competing and winning in state and regional skate contests. People said he was going to be the next Tony Hawk.
By the time he turned 19, it seemed that Carson really was going to be a star. After he graduated high school, Carson began travelling the country, competing in big-name events. He’d even been approached by a couple of skate companies who were interested in sponsoring him.
Carson’s future looked bright – but there was one thing holding him back. Carson struggled with drug abuse. While he was still in high school, Carson had been put on probation twice for smoking marijuana. His friends described him as the kind of guy who’d try anything once.
When Carson’s skating started taking off, he made an effort to stop partying – but it was hard to quit. He was supposed to be a role model, and getting arrested for drug abuse would hurt his career. Then someone told him about bath salts – they’d mess you up, but they were legal.
So one night, Carson went to the corner store and bought a pack of fake cocaine. When he got home, he went to his room and snorted it. He felt high right away – it was intense. Too intense. Suddenly, Carson felt scared and paranoid – he was hearing things and seeing things. He was convinced that people were trying to break into his apartment. He was sure that the FBI was watching him through his television.
Finally, he called his dad. His dad called an ambulance.
By the time the ambulance got to Carson’s apartment building, they were too late. Carson had committed suicide. They found him hanging in his closet; he’d left a rambling suicide note and the packet of bath salts was in his pocket.
Think fake coke is a safe high? That’s what Carson thought, too.
Synthetic cocaine is new and unregulated, so nobody is sure what it can do to your body in the long term. But users report all sorts of scary short-term effects, including insomnia, hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks and thoughts of suicide.
When you snort, swallow, inject, or smoke fake cocaine, the chemical MDPV goes straight to your bloodstream, creating an intense high that lasts for several hours. Some users say that the negative effects of fake coke can last much longer, though, sometimes for days.
What’s worse than the panic attacks, paranoia and hallucinations you get when you use bath salts? The intense effects you experience when you’re “coming down” from high doses of MDPV.
As MDPV wears off, you can expect to feel some pretty awful after-effects, including:
• Muscle cramps
• Stomach pain
There’s not a lot of research yet about how addictive MDPV is, but researchers and users think that it’s possible to get hooked on MDPV, just like you get hooked on illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth.
People who have used bath salts say that once they come down from their high, they want more. Regular users say that they build up a resistance to fake coke: over time, they need to use more and more fake cocaine to feel high… and the more fake coke they use, the more paranoid and unstable they become. They don’t eat or sleep. They don’t know what’s real and what’s imaginary.
Fake coke might be new, but users and researchers agree that bath salts are not a safe way to get high. In fact, synthetic cocaine might even be much more dangerous than the real stuff.
There are a million reasons to say no to fake coke: It’s dangerous. It makes you paranoid and anxious, and it can make you lose touch with reality. When you snort or smoke it, it produces an intense and scary high that might land you in the hospital… or worse.
So what do you say when someone offers you bath salts? Try one of these:
• “No thanks. That stuff makes you crazy.”
• “No way! Do you even know what that stuff is?”
• “I’ll pass. I’ve heard that stuff makes you paranoid.”
• “Sorry. That stuff is dangerous.”