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Bath salts

bath salts

The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.  

Synthetic cathinones are closely related to the phenethylamine family and typically have an amphetamine-type analogue. Examples of synthetic cathinones in Australia include Mephedrone (‘Meow Meow’, ‘M-CAT’); Methylone; MDPV (‘Ivory wave’); alpha-PVP (‘flakka’). 

Bottle spilling out crystals on table

Synthetic cathinones first appeared in drug markets in the mid-2000s, with methylone the first to be reported. 

The name 'bath salts' derives from the appearance of the drug. The white powder, granules, or crystals often resemble true bath salts such as Epsom salts, but are very different chemically and should not be confused. 

Research suggests that some of the health risks associated with the use of synthetic cathinones may include: 

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • chest pain
  • abnormal sensation, typically tingling or prickling of the skin (paraesthesia) 
  • heart palpitations 
  • seizures 
  • abnormally fast heartbeat (tachycardia) 
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • dependence. 

For more information about synthetic drugs, see New and emerging psychoactive substances.