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Hank talks about the scary new drug that's led to some recent incidences of goat stabbing, as well as other tragedies - bath salts. We learn how it works and ask the important question: why?

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(0:00) There's only one thing harder than keeping stupid things from happening to people, and that's keeping people from doing stupid things to themselves. You probably heard about bath salts. Not the kind for bathing, but the kind that's making people do bad crap, crazy stuff all over the place, like climbing up telephone poles and jumping into traffic, or killing your neighbor's goat while wearing lingerie. That...yeah, that actu--those actually things--those are things that actually happened. But the important question is why. And also...why?!

[Intro Sequence]

(0:31) Bath salts are an amphetamine-like drug that got their start in the UK as a club drug. Basically, a cheap alternative to ecstasy. They've only become a problem in the United States in the past couple of years. In 2011, over 6,100 emergencies involving bath salts were reported by poison-control centers, up from 303 cases in just 2010. That's the year before.

(0:51) Suddenly, emergency rooms all over the country have been seeing people who snorted or smoked or injected or ate something that made them act so psychotic that even large doses of sedatives couldn't calm them down. Some of these people could only be knocked out by general anesthesia. Symptoms included fevers of up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, along with extreme paranoia, dangerously high blood pressure and heart rates, and blood toxicity bordering on kidney failure. These drugs--which have also been marketed as plant fertilizer, incense, or cleaning products--contain a group of synthetic stimulants called substituted cathinones. Cathinone is an organic stimulant found in a plant called khat that's native to the Middle East and East Africa, and it's a dangerous and illegal drug.

(1:30) Most bath salts use one of two main substitutes, mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which, because of it being really long, is generally just called MDPV. As with drugs like cocaine and meth, these drugs stimulate the central nervous system while messing with one of our most beloved neurotransmitters, dopamine. The chemical that our brain squirts out to reward us when we do something good for our survival, like eating food or having sex. The more dopamine our neurons get, the better we feel, for a little while at least.

(1:59) But in a person's brain, the synthetic cathinones found in bath salts combine the effects of both cocaine and meth at the same time. On one hand, they block the reabsorption of excess dopamine that's floating around your neurons, just like coke does, while on the other hand, they boost the production of even more dopamine, like meth does. Now, with the brain drowning in dopamine, it becomes so overstimulated, some bath salts highs--or hells, as it were--can go on for days, and your brain can't get a break. And if you've ever even gone a day without sleeping, you know how crazy that can make you. So, add that to paranoia, panic attacks, mood swings, and you, too, might start stabbing goats.

(2:36) At this point, the main ingredients of most bath salts have been banned in at least 41 states, but bath salt cookers, just like crystal meth cookers, are trying to get around the law by concocting different, but similar, chemicals that have the same effect. Basically, inventing new cathinone substitutes. That means that in addition to destroying people's brains, hearts, and lives, these drug makers are using the users as human guinea pigs for a profit. Fantastic.

(3:01) So, seriously, guys, I know that this is not the target audience for these drugs, but don't do drugs. And most especially, don't do new drugs that nobody knows what they do, because you never know what's gonna make you, like, go eat your neighbor's dog.

(3:14) Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow. A fascinating, but also scary and unfortunate that we had to cover this topic. If you want to keep getting smarter with us, you can go to and subscribe. And if you have anything else that you'd like us to cover or talk about, or just questions to ask, we're always on Facebook or Twitter, or, of course, in the comments below.