What’s the latest party drug? “Bath salts.” This has nothing to do with salt or a bath – that’s just the slang name for a white, powdery drug called mephedrone that can be swallowed, snorted or injected. It’s being sold online, at gas stations and smoke shops with names like “Ivory Wave,” “White Lightning” and “Hurricane Charlie.” It’s incredibly dangerous. It has the effects of meth, but it’s legal to sell. It’s a synthetic drug that targets the neurotransmitters in the brain, causing intense cravings. It can also cause hallucinations, paranoia, and rapid heart rates, as well as seizures, suicidal thoughts, coma and death. The side effects are even more dangerous when it’s taken with alcohol.

One 21-year-old man we read about snorted some “bath salts,” spent three days hallucinating, and then he killed himself. Authorities are also investigating numerous cases of people who died or committed murder while under the influence of bath salts or plant food. The number of calls to poison centers about bath salts are up 2,400% in Missouri alone. ER doctors went from never hearing of bath salts, to treating multiple patients a week who’ve OD’d on it.

So, why isn’t it illegal? It isn’t regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency because it’s not marketed for human consumption. In fact, it can take years of complaints, poisonings, overdoses and deaths before authorities have enough evidence to ban a product. Even worse, the minute they ban one ingredient, chemists tweak the formula slightly, making the drug “legal” all over again. What’s the takeaway on this? Don’t buy drugs. Even if you think they’re safe. Parents – this is another “must-have” conversation you need to have with your kids, especially if they go to dance-raves, where they might be offered “bath salts.”