Designer drugs on the rise and increasingly available over the counter

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Newfangled recreational drugs such as “bath salts” are increasingly available over the counter, according to a Los Angeles-based referral network that helps get addicts into treatment.

According to a recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the number of synthetic drugs being sold on the streets or over the counter rose by more than 50 percent over the past three years.

“Bath Salts are cheap, easily found and they don’t show up on standard drug tests,” Meg Higgins, owner of Her Miracle Network in Los Angeles. “Drug users across the country are always looking for the next drug they can use that won’t get them fired from work, kicked out of their sober living home or sent back to jail for breaking parole.”

Unregulated “designer” drugs are sold as tablets, capsules, or powder – – often with names such Vanilla Sky and Bliss — and purchased in places such as tobacco and convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and the Internet.

A study to be published in the August issue of Neuropharmacology shows that “bath salts” appear to be more addictive than methamphetamine. In the study, rats worked more than 10 times harder to get the bath salts than meth.

“Adding bath salts to standard drug-testing protocol is imperative,” said Dr. Louise Stanger, an interventionist with Her Miracle in Los Angeles. “I have seen the devastation this drug has done to families. Bath salts are highly addictive and have been shown to cause permanent cognitive impairment. We can’t intervene or treat these people properly without definitive testing.”

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