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Four ways to protect your business from bath salts abuse

"Bath salts."  These words once conjured up images of soaking in a hot bath at the end of a long day.  No longer.  Rarely has a benign term taken on a meaning as ominous as "bath salts", now synonymous with an illicit designer drug quickly gaining in both popularity and notoriety.  

"Designer Drugs" and "Bath Salts"

For the uninitiated, a designer drug is a substance created ("designed") to avoid drug enforcement provisions of existing laws.  Derivatives of existing drugs are created, modifying their chemical structure to varying degrees so that they differ from the structure of illegal substances/recreational drugs, yet still cause similar effects.  

"Bath salts" are synthetic stimulants produced in clandestine labs and sold online and in so-called "smoke shops."  They are marketed as common household products in order to circumvent drug enforcement regulations.  This is accomplished simply by labeling them as "not for human consumption."  The effects of bath salts are similar to the heightened sense of reality resulting from ecstacy use as well as increased feeling of energy similar to that experienced by users of cocaine.  Other effects?  Hypertension, high blood pressure, chest pain, nausea and/or vomiting, seizures, excessive perspiration, hallucinations, paranoia and bouts of psychosis.   But are bath salts mind-altering and, if so, to what degree? There is an ever-increasing number of reports involving suspected use of bath salts.  A man in Galveston Texas recently died in the street after causing a major disturbance and acting erratically.  Police and EMS were called to the scene. The man stopped breathing at the scene and medical personnel could not revive him.  Officers found Bath Salts on the man's person.

Business and Bath Salts

As a business owner, you may wonder what relevance this has to you.   Clearly, the use of any mind-altering drug by an employee can significantly interfere with or completely prevent you from carrying out your responsibility to provide a safe working environment for your personnel.   If your enterprise has a drug-free workplace policy, this will obviously come into play as well.Note, however, that there is no established standard for measuring impairment arising from the use of bath salts.  In fact, until recently, it was widely believed that there was no bath salts drug test by which to measure the presence of the two harmful synthetic psychoactive compounds (mephedrone and methylenedioxpyrovalerone or MDPV) most bath salts contain.  However, it is possible for an employer to utilize a bath salts drug test, so to speak, if the right lab is chosen.  Specifically, there is a type of urine testing procedure that can detect for the presence of the major metabolites found in bath salts.

What Your Business Can Do

  1. Ensure you have a Drug-Free Workplace Policy.  It should list prescribed drugs and substances as well as the drugs for which employees will be tested.  Do not rely on boilerplate language; laws vary by state and it is highly recommended to have your drug policy reviewed by a trained professional.
  2. Engage in pre-employment drug testing for all employees.  
  3. Arrange for random drug testing including a bath salts drug test to reduce absenteeism, and injuries, while increasing productivity.
  4. Notify applicants and employees that your company has a zero-tolerance policy, meaning that it is the mere presence of a prohibited substance, not establishment of impairment, that can lead to disciplinary action which may include dismissal. 

You can't stop bath salts use, but a bath salts drug test can help you minimize the potential harm to your organization.  

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