Harvard Mental Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Bath salts - a new way to get high?

Q. I heard a news story about people using bath salts to get high. How is that possible? My husband and I have two teenagers. Should we talk with them about this?

A. The "bath salts" you've heard about have nothing to do with the type that people add to water and use while soaking in a tub. These newer bath salts are designer drugs that circumvent the laws governing controlled or illegal substances, but can be used to get high.

The active chemicals in these salts — mephedrone, pyrovalerone, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) — all have stimulant properties. They are chemically distinct from drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine, or ecstasy (MDMA), yet have similar effects on the brain. They are thus likely to be highly addictive.

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