As per the report published in fix.com, in 2012 amphetamine-type stimulants, including synthetic bath salt derivatives, had become more popular worldwide than either cocaine or heroin, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime i.e. UNODC. Bath salt drug products gained popularity in 2012 due to large number of users believe that the drugs were quasi-legal, non-addictive, relatively safe, and invisible to drug tests. But by the end of the year, it had become clear that none of these things was still true because bath salts similar to Spice and other cannabis spinoffs are no longer legal and many of the drugs found in bath salts appeared to be addictive and also causes health hazards.
The doctors did not know enough about the drugs to consistently diagnose an overdose. Testing which was available for detecting synthetic stimulants was costly and questionable and even the effects were wildly unpredictable. Violent headaches, paranoia, disturbed vision and impaired decision-making can all be effects of bath salts.
According to the officials of Arkansas law enforcement, they had identified 250 different chemicals in bath salt products. Researchers have found opioids like tramadol, opioid receptor-active compounds like Kratom i.e. Mitragyna speciosa, and oleamide, a fatty acid derivative with psychoactive properties, in packets of synthetic marijuana. Bath salts are quite capable of landing the users in the emergency room as compared to speed and cocaine; most users do not end up in the hospital.
According to Jon Nevin, a California emergency medical technician and paramedic, 2012 was also the year of the first official reports of acute kidney injury due to bath salts, most probably by MDPV or mephedrone. Acute kidney injury appears to be a rare but devastating side effect of these drugs.
Some of the victims were likely suffering overdoses of MDMA or other drugs, which causes agitation, tachycardia, hallucinations, combative behavior, hypertension, chest pain, blurred vision and several purported deaths. Now, there are new drug tests out there that can detect many of the major ingredients in both bath salts and spice-style cannabis products.
Bath salts originate mainly in Asia, and bath salt precursor drugs are now manufactured in Malaysia, West Africa, and Iran places which was previously radar when it came to drug manufacture.
Yury Fedotove, UNODC Executive Director, says, the market for synthetic stimulants had evolved from a cottage-type industry by small-scale manufacturing operations to more of a cocaine or heroin-type market with a higher level of integration and organized crime groups involved throughout the production and supply chain. Even bath salts have become big business.